Are We Going to Throw Out Ash Wednesday Too? by Gail Finke

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By Gail Finke, Crisis Magazine, Feb. 15, 2021

Gail Deibler Finke produces a daily Catholic talk radio program in Cincinnati. An author and freelance writer with a background in design, corporate identity, and planning, she’s also served stints as a web magazine creator and newspaper designer.  …

Gail FinkeFirst, what this is not: This article does not argue that we must hold Ash Wednesday services as usual, nor does it argue that scattering ashes on Ash Wednesday is perfectly licit and no one who really understands the Catholic faith can object. Instead, it argues that lack of planning ahead and understanding what’s at stake—something dating to long before this pandemic—will make the loss of “real ash” on Ash Wednesday catastrophic if we, and our exhausted Church leaders, don’t see what’s as plain as the noses on our faces. Americans, not just Catholic Americans, love Ash Wednesday. And no one takes it well when you kill what he loves.

Let’s go back a bit. Once upon a time, we are told, the Church was large and triumphant and Catholics enjoyed a plethora of colorful but long-outdated devotional practices. People prayed passels of novenas, bought tacky statues and wore tacky medals, attended odd processions and made odd pilgrimages, and visited shrines as if they couldn’t pray right where they were.  ….