Daily Archives: March 1, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Dawn and I are up a little early to make it to 8:00 a.m. mass at St. Matt’s. And instead of walking where we normally do, me to Judiciary Square and Dawn to Metro Center, we simply stroll the two blocks to our local Metro station Stadium/Armory and ride to Farragut West. Poor Dawn is already feeling headachy, not a pleasant way to start the day on a day of fasting.

We arrive for Mass just barely after the procession begins, but, since it’s one of the early masses, there’s plenty of room for us in our usual spot in the east transept by the organ. No choir for us yet; they’re back for the 12:10 p.m. mass with the Cardinal. And no singing either, just reciting the responsorial psalm and the Gloria and Lord’s Prayer and whatnot. I like singing better.

For ashes we get “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” I can’t remember if I’ve ever gotten “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.” Our ashgiver dude is not nearly as generous as Monsignor in his smearing technique. Our forehead crosses look like they’ll barely last past lunch, whereas Monsignor’s folks may never get theirs to scrub off.

The homeless man who was begging for alms outside before Mass comes in and sits near us in time for the Lord’s Prayer. He kneels after the Agnus Dei then splits when communion begins. He was somewhat crabby when we passed him by on our way in, so I make sure to give him something after we leave.

I love Ash Wednesday and having the cross on my forehead all day. I like the clubbiness of the ashes, spotting someone else on the street and knowing that they’re Catholic too. And, as Tina Fey pointed out once, it’s the day Catholics get to freak out their co-workers. Tait asks me about it. Sadly, my dashing young protege Kate never makes it to work, so she misses it.

For the 5:30 Mass I return to St. Matt’s to be an usher. I arrive about 20 minutes early and am surprised at the sparse attendance, but by 5:30 the place is packed. And by 5:40 the place is overflowing. My assignment is section B in the west transept.[1] I’m not trained in proper seating etiquette, so I let people fend for themselves. But I am to usher them to ashes and communion, as well as take up the collection. Come time for ashes I’m a little disappointed that my help is not especially necessary, as people seem pretty clued in as to where to line up and from whom to get their ashes. This is mostly a function of having enough ministers to do the ashes, and enough for communion as well. Luckily, I’m a little more useful during the collection.

I spot a coworker Sasha down back in the nave, by the St. Anthony Chapel. I had invited her to come and am pleased that she did in fact come. I’m able to chat briefly with her at Mass’s end. Then we all have to dash because they seem to be starting the 7:00 p.m. Spanish Mass like 20 minutes early.

I look for ashes on the train home but don’t see any. Mine are fading but holding in there. We have soup at dinner, but no wine with it like we usually would have, only water. No ice cream for dessert, although we do have a soda pop each.

A good day.

1 This is over by the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, one of the two chapels in the Cathedral that I’ve never been in. The other is the Chapel of Holy Angels, which is upstairs off the Sacristy, and I’m not sure when we’re allowed up there. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel I’m just afraid to go in. Once, when we were giving Kevin and his mom and aunt a tour of the Cathedral, I admitted to Dawn that I was afraid to go in there and that she had to take them there. “I’m not going in there!” she cried in horror.