Ash Wednesday: will you go about your day WITHOUT washing your forehead?

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Lepanto

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More Catholics go to Ash Wednesday Masses (even though it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation) then they do actual Holy Days of Obligation.

Will you go to work, shopping, school, etc. with ashes on your forehead?

As long as you are NOT seeking to draw attention to yourself…

“(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” Matthew 6:1

…but rather to draw attention to Christ then I think the ashes should not be washed off…

“No man, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar, nor under a basket, but on a stand, that those who enter in may see the light.”
Luke 11:33

…and if anyone utters anything against you, consider yourself blessed!

“Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice for your reward is very great in heaven.” Matthew 5:11-12

Ash Wednesday: will you go about your day WITHOUT washing your forehead?
 
Seeing as how I will going to the 7:00pm Mass, it doesn’t make much difference whether or not I wash off the ashes. 😉 I’ll just be going home afterward.
 
The scriptural quotes in post #1 certainly pose a dilemna…damned if you do, damned if you don’t…as for me, I don’t wash or rub them off…though I did as a kid.
 
Since I do not receive the ashes if I go to Mass, it is no issue for me.
 
Every year I wear them, and every year several people tell me “Oh, you have something on your forehead”. I then explain. The most aggravating is “you have some dirt on your forehead”, because you first have to explain that it isn’t dirt. But then I can still explain. Unfortunately, the priest usually leave a pretty ill-defined smudge, so I have taken to “trimming” it so it looks more deliberate; more like a thumbprint. But even then, I get the “dirt on your forehead” comment. What truly amazes me are the protestants who know Ash Wednesday exists, (and that’s most of them) and even know when it is (fewer), but never make the connection even so. I will confess I enjoy telling them it’s Ash Wednesday. “Oh well yes” they will say, “it is”. Usually, they still don’t get it, so I then explain to them why THEY call it Ash Wednesday. Very few of them actually know.

Even more amazing, some Protestants are aware of “Shrove Tuesday”, as being the day before Ash Wednesday, but they have no idea at all what it means. I don’t get much chance to explain that to them, though. No ashes to call attention to it. But it’s even more enjoyable to explain that to a Protestant who is familiar with that term for the day.
 
I’ll try going to Mass in the morning this year, then wearing my ashes to work and see what sort of comments I get.
 
I’ve never washed them off. When I’ve gone to work after recieving ashes I usually get many customers pointing out I have dirt on my head.😃 Last year was my hubby’s first year at the shop he works for. He works afternoons so he went to work after recieving ashes. All day long guys kept telling him got grease on his head. Even after he said they were ashes they didn’t know what he meant and got looked at like he had two heads -so he had to keep reexplaining over and over. One guy look incredulous, “You mean you went to church before coming to work?” Only one of his co-workers even knew what they were-he was a Lutheran.
 
I wear the ashes all day if I attend mass in the morning, but it tends to wear off naturally, so then it looks like dirt on my forehead. But that’s ok.

When I lived in the city, I loved Ash Wednesday, because you could see all the Catholics and people of other denominations who observe Ash Wednesday. It probably sounds silly, but I liked the feeling of unity whenever you’d see them walking the streets in the city. It’s a very large Catholic population there. Now that I live in the suburbs, you don’t see it as often and I think people tend to wash their foreheads more - or at least they probably attend mass in the evenings rather than before work or during lunch break.
 
I am curious, why would one care whether they kept them there or not? Are they put there as some sort of badge of honor, to be shown to the world - “Attention! I am Catholic and I am not afraid to show it!”, or “Attention, world! let it be known by all who meet me today, I fulfilled my obligation and attended Ash Wednesday mass. The proof is here, on my forehead!”

I recall a priest a few years ago, when asked whether it was okay to wipe off the ashes, responded: “Why on earth not?”

Is there an actual reason why we must keep them visible all day?

imho
 
I am curious, why would one care whether they kept them there or not? Are they put there as some sort of badge of honor, to be shown to the world - “Attention! I am Catholic and I am not afraid to show it!”, or “Attention, world! let it be known by all who meet me today, I fulfilled my obligation and attended Ash Wednesday mass. The proof is here, on my forehead!”

I recall a priest a few years ago, when asked whether it was okay to wipe off the ashes, responded: “Why on earth not?”

Is there an actual reason why we must keep them visible all day?

imho
When I was in Catholic school, we were taught to not wipe our foreheads off. I remember our priests and teachers telling us every year that we shouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to have that symbol on our foreheads for the entire day. I and my friends took it that we weren’t allowing the secular world dictate our actions. (We shouldn’t be afraid of being made fun of, for instance, if kids from other faiths belittled us for having those ashes or just for being Catholic.) So, the idea stuck with me to adulthood. I haven’t really met an adult that would “make fun” of me being Catholic if I wore the ashes, but it is just something I never stopped doing (not wiping ashes off my forehead).
 
I’m ashamed to say I won’t get the ashes. :eek: I haven’t done so since I was a child as I find it all a bit too morbid!!! 😦 I will of course go to Mass though.
 
There’s a tight-rope act in following the words of Jesus. We must not do our good deeds so as to be seen by others, and yet at the same time we must do our good deeds so that others may see them and give glory to our heavenly Father. It’s a question of motive: if we do it for others to see us, we receive no reward from God, but if we do it for others to see and glorify God thereby, we will be rewarded. (Cf. Matthew 5:14-16; 6:1)

In fact, I blogged about this last Ash Wednesday.
 
Also, I thought I might share Ezekiel 9:4-6 (from the Douay-Rheims):
And the Lord said to him: “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem: and mark Thau upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst thereof.” And to the others he said in my hearing: “Go ye after him through the city, and strike: let not your eyes spare, nor be ye moved with pity. Utterly destroy old and young, maidens, children and women: but upon whomsoever you shall see Thau, kill him not, and begin ye at my sanctuary.” So they began at the ancient men who mere before the house.
 
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