Fr. George Rutler: Ash Wednesday: The Dark Stain of Sin and Death

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By Fr. George Rutler, Church Militant, February 22, 2020

Father George W. Rutler is pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church in the archdiocese of New York. His Sunday homilies are archived. He has authored multiple books, including Calm in Chaos: Catholic Wisdom in Anxious Times and his latest, Grace and Truth. Individuals may donate to his parish.


Our call to find the abundant life offered by Christ

I used to dread Ash Wednesday because of the endless lines of people coming for ashes. By the end of the day, priests look like coal miners.

Sociologists may condescendingly consider the phenomenon of crowds coming for ashes, when they do not enter a church at other times of the year, a habit of tribal identity. If the mystery of the Holy Trinity, or Christ dying and rising from the dead, confounds limited human intelligence, there is still a spark of the sense that biological life has an end as real as its beginning.

For skeptics, the Easter proclamation “Christ is risen” may seem like an indulgence of romance or wishful thinking, but no one drawing breath can deny that “dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.”

God gives life and does not intend to take it away. He resents mortality, and when he came into the world that he had made good, he wept to see how it had gone wrong. ….

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