Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Retro Ash Wednesday

Fr. Emil said Mass this morning at St. Joe's. He's the new priest from Poland who is Mr. Miracle in our parish since he actually speaks all three languages. He's Polish, learned English, and came here straight from six months of language study in Spain, if I recall correctly.

It was a larger crowd than usual this morning, with better representation from all language sectors, and a special guest appearance by two Catholic Workers, so I even had people to sit with. The only people I expected to see and didn't were the guys from Port Ministries. My buddy Joseph was there with his sons but I didn't get to go peace him because they kept the peace so short.

Peace was short because we had imposition of ashes in addition to Communion. Here's where the retro part comes in. As a post-Vatican II Catholic, I've always received ashes from a priest who dug his thumb in the ash and then marked the sign of the cross on my forehead. Today, Fr. Emil put little mounds of ashes right around everyone's hairline. I'd never seen it done that way before.

In the office ladies' room later this morning, one of my colleagues told me that in fact that is the very old-school way ashes were imposed pre-Vatican II. But that was usually for men, since women wore veils. Women got the thumbprint cross on the forehead, men got the pile of ashes in their hair (or on their bald spot, as happened to Joseph). Now that we don't have to wear veils, I guess in Poland everybody gets them the same way.

By the way, I also got to eat an awesome kolacky, probably homemeade, in the St. Joe's rectory after 9 a.m. Mass on Sunday. For those who don't know, kolacky is the name of a Polish Fat Tuesday treat. It's basically a doughnut dusted with powdered sugar and filled with jam, often raspberry. I'm often skeptical of raspberry jam-filled doughnuts, but this jam was not too sweet and tasted like some real fruit went into it way back in the beginning of the process. If I couldn't have a beignet, a kolacky was probably the next best thing!

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