Friday, February 11, 2005

Ash Wednesday with the kids

One of the most moving moments in the Roman Catholic liturgical year is receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday and being admonished, "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return." Even though it is no surprise to hear, it is still bracing. It's a moment to bring back into focus what is truly important.

This year I took my two oldest kids (ages 11 and 8) to Ash Wednesday Mass. They wanted to know if there was a special name for every day of the week, like Fat Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, etc. So the mood was light-hearted.

After we got our ashes and while we were waiting for everyone else to finish, I took the opportunity to explain what the admonition means. I hadn't really talked to them about it very much before. It was eye-opening for them -- I doubt they have given much thought to such things.

But for me, the conversation was disturbing. It's one thing to hear about myself returning to dust, but it's not so pleasant to think of my kids doing the same.