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Where does Ash Wednesday get its ashes?
Statesman ^ | February 21, 2007 | Eileen E. Flynn

Posted on 02/21/2007 2:48:46 PM PST by NYer

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

When he lived in Chicago, the Rev. Lou Brusatti remembers, people would see his clerical collar and stop him on the street every Ash Wednesday.

"Hey, Father, you got any ashes with you?"

Brusatti, now the humanities dean at St. Edward's University in Austin, quickly learned to carry a small bag of ashes with him on the day when Christians begin their 40-day Lenten journey.

There's something powerful, Brusatti said, about the cross-shaped mark millions of Christians receive on their foreheads every year on Ash Wednesday, which is today. It's a public sign of one's faith, a reminder of one's mortality and a pledge to repent and draw closer to God in preparation for Easter.

But where do these ashes come from?

The ash used in services is made from burned palm fronds used in services on the previous year's Palm Sunday, when Christians commemorate Christ's triumphant return to Jerusalem days before his crucifixion.

It's up to each congregation to procure its own ash for the ceremony, and relatively few still make their own.

Cristo Rey Catholic Church in East Austin burns its own. At St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Fort Worth, members bring their palm branches in and gather for a burning ceremony on the parish grounds on the Monday before Ash Wednesday. St. Martin's Lutheran Church in Central Austin relies on parishioner Tom Blomquist to make the ashes in a container at his home.

Some churches burn the fronds whole; others grind the leaves with a mortar and pestle first. The process might involve a barbecue pit and holy water. Everyone has a different technique.

But beware the artificial fire log. The Rev. June Wilkins, associate pastor of St. Martin's, related a cautionary tale from a church that will remain anonymous.

Seems the staff ran out of palm leaves and decided a store-bought fire log would have to suffice. As it turned out, the ashes from the sawdust and petroleum wax product left a cross-shaped rash on parishioners' foreheads after the ashes wore off.

Even with real fronds, the process can be messy, which is why many churches prefer to buy ashes.

Ziegler's, a company that provides candles, chalices and cassocks to churches throughout the Southwest, showcases ashes "made from pure palm leaves" on its Web site. A $6.50 bag serves 300; $14.95 buys ashes for 1,200.

And then there are the Ash Wednesday accoutrements: a selection of nickel-plated and crystal containers, a hand-blown glass anointing bowl, and metal and wooden ash dispensers.

Brusatti keeps ashes at the campus chapel in a tiny bowl that fits in the palm of his hand. Enough to serve 1,000, he said. "It doesn't take much."

The Ash Wednesday tradition dates to around the eighth century, when Christians would perform public penance for their sins. The ash reminds the faithful of their sin and their mortality.

"Remember thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return," the priest would intone as he marked foreheads.

"There's something about the symbolism that touches people really at the core of who they are," Brusatti said. "It ties people to the earth. It ties people to one another, and it really points us toward a baptism that we all share, and ultimately it points us toward Easter and the resurrection."

In the end, the rite comes down to applying the mark on the foreheads of the faithful. And different clergy have different techniques for that as well.

St. Martin's adds olive oil to its ash for better adhesion. St. Andrew's in Fort Worth uses straight ash.

Brusatti said the oil in people's skin helps the ashes stick. "It's easy to make them adhere," Brusatti said. "They love to adhere to makeup."

There's an art to administering the ashes. No one wants to walk out of church with a vague grayish smear. The mark is meant to show a clear, dark cross, a sign of the person's faith and Lenten journey.

"I like strong smudges, myself. I always try to get enough ash that you can make a cross that's discernible."

One that will last throughout the day, which is how long you're supposed to keep the ashes on. Brusatti said most people wear them to bed and then wash their faces Thursday morning.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History
KEYWORDS: ahses; palms

For Ash Wednesday, the Rev. Lou Brusatti keeps enough ashes to mark 1,000 people in a bowl that fits in the palm of his hand.


The Rev. Lou Brusatti pours ashes at the chapel of St. Edward's University for Ash Wednesday. The ash reminds the faithful of their sin and their mortality. The symbolism 'touches people really at the core of who they are,' Brusatti said.

1 posted on 02/21/2007 2:48:48 PM PST by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

2 posted on 02/21/2007 2:50:35 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

I got a good dose this morning but somehow by midafternoon, they were gone. I'm cranky with our building's deli who had the obligatory mardi gras special yesterday but had chicken fried steak as the special today. I made the mistake of asking about it last year because they had run out of tuna melts and Jim started ranting about how evil God was so I didn't bring it up this year.


3 posted on 02/21/2007 2:54:43 PM PST by Mercat (Conservative Catholic here and I will not rule out either Rudy or Mitt.)
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To: NYer
Genesis 3:19 For out of it you were taken; For dust you [are,] And to dust you shall return."

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.

Job 42:6 Therefore I abhor [myself,] And repent in dust and ashes."

Jeremiah 6:26 O daughter of my people, Dress in sackcloth And roll about in ashes! Make mourning [as for] an only son, most bitter lamentation; For the plunderer will suddenly come upon us.

Daniel 9:3 Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.

Matthew 11:21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Luke 10:13 " Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

4 posted on 02/21/2007 2:55:12 PM PST by Titanites
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To: NYer
Our parish still makes ashes from scratch.

About four weeks ago they started asking everyone to leave their fronds from Palm Sunday in collection barrels in the narthex. Apparently enough people stick them up behind the crucifix for a year (we always have, even before we were Catholic.) I think they save a few boxes of palms as well.

It's mixed with a little oil to make it stick, makes a good dark mark.

I wore mine all day, but took a riding lesson this afternoon, and riding helmet + sweat = no more ashes on the forehead.

5 posted on 02/21/2007 4:32:21 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Mercat
I got a good dose this morning but somehow by midafternoon, they were gone.

Lol ... you should look East ;-) They celebrate Ash Monday, so you get an early start on Lent. In the Maronite Tradition, immediately following the Readings and the Creed, the priest blesses the ashes, then sprinkles Holy Water on them. He then mixes them to the proper consistency and "paints" these in the form of a cross on the foreheads of ALL present (yes, even the infants) repeating the same phrase: "Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return". Perhaps you can suggest this 'formula' to your parish priest for next year's Ash Wednesday.

As an aside, I stepped outside at one point today and heard a young child YELL out to a passerby - "Hey, you've got something on your forehead". To which he replied: "Yes, I know".

I made the mistake of asking about it last year because they had run out of tuna melts and Jim started ranting about how evil God was so I didn't bring it up this year.

Next year, try something different, like middle eastern dishes. Hommous and Tabouli or Felafel served up in a wrap with lettuce, tomatos and tahini sauce ... yum! These will scintillate your palate while meeting lenten regulations. They're absolutely delicious! The bonus, of course, is that you will be consuming the very same dishes once cooked by the Blessed Mother and served up to our Lord.

6 posted on 02/21/2007 5:00:06 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

Well. I live in Johnson County KS. We used to be able to go about two miles to a wonderful middle eastern restaurant but it closed. Now it would take a trip to Westport which is more of a commitment than I want but I am thinking about some of the really good Indian restaurants in the neighborhood.


7 posted on 02/21/2007 5:02:46 PM PST by Mercat (Conservative Catholic here and I will not rule out either Rudy or Mitt.)
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To: AnAmericanMother
Our parish still makes ashes from scratch.

Yes, of course, this is the proper way to go. Our parish is small enough that Father need only save the palm fronds used to decorate the Church on Palm Sunday. These provide ample supply for Ash Monday, but I like your parish's approach. I too enwrap the Crucifixes with palms and leave them there all year. Gotta love a pastor who advocates 'recycling'. I'm never quite certain of how to properly dispose of blessed palms. Perhaps we should pose this question to Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, who posts responses to the Zenit News web site.

It's mixed with a little oil to make it stick, makes a good dark mark.

As I just posted to 'Mercat', the Maronite priests first bless the ashes then sprinkle Holy Water on them 3x. Then they mix this together to form a fairly heavy liquid substance that is 'painted' on the penitent's forehead with the words: "Remember that your are dust and unto dust you shall return". ALL present, including infants, are given equal distribution of the ashes. This mixture adheres to the forehead like glue ;-)

I wore mine all day, but took a riding lesson this afternoon, and riding helmet + sweat = no more ashes on the forehead.

Next year, you may want to apply a strip of indellible tape ;-) That should preseve them until you are ready to pull it off.

8 posted on 02/21/2007 5:15:27 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
It's funny, but we had a furnace repairman come in the house, saw the crucifix with all the palms behind it (I use a little piece of florist's wire so they don't all fall down) and asked, "You Catholic?"

Me (big wink) - "Well, I ain't Buddhist . . ."

He was Catholic too. We had a lot of fun talking about the nuns in his grade school and our respective parishes.

9 posted on 02/21/2007 5:22:28 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: Mercat; AnAmericanMother
We used to be able to go about two miles to a wonderful middle eastern restaurant but it closed.

No need to make a trip! These recipes are of the utmost simplicity (remember our Blessed Mother did not have the modern conveniences of today). One of our Lebanese parishioners recently opened up a 'cafe' and is now rated #1 in Albany, for Lebanese cuisine. She gave me her recipes, written in typical Mediterranean fashion

Homous
1 can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
2 tblsps tahini (available in most supermarkets)
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup cold water
pinch of salt

Run the chick peas through a food processor and gradually introduce the other ingredients. These should form a smooth dip like consistency. Adjust the liquids and salt, to suit the taste.

The other recipes are equally simple to prepare. Tabouli is nothing more than chopped parsley, green onion, fresh tomato, fresh mint (dried works as well), salt, cinnamon, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice (of course) and some bulghur.

Once tossed and ready, bring out the pita bread and 'voila' - a delicious middle eastern lenten dish. There are plenty of recipes online ... check them out!

10 posted on 02/21/2007 5:32:33 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: AnAmericanMother
We had a lot of fun talking about the nuns in his grade school and our respective parishes.

I'll bet you got an earful :-)

I'm slightly older than you and grew up, a Catholic baby boomer, in Queens NY. The classes in our Catholic School were packed - 50+ to a room with the same nun for the entire year. I was so intimidated by my 7th grade teacher that I broke out in shingles and was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine (or so said the Dermatologist), as the youngest patient ever treated for this ailment. Now, as an adult and mother, looking back on the experience, I can only proclaim thes nuns as saints. Imagine spending an entire year teaching ALL subjects to the same group of students, all afflicted with raging hormones. Not only that, she also corrected our spelling and grammar on EVERY paper submitted, regardless of the topic. And, these nuns did this work out of a sense of duty, obligation and LOVE for our Lord. God bless each and every one of them!

11 posted on 02/21/2007 5:40:37 PM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

Ours came from Sacco's. I have a collection of palm fronds from years past. I think I'll give them to Father Michael for him to burn.


12 posted on 02/21/2007 6:19:30 PM PST by Jaded ("I have a mustard- seed; and I am not afraid to use it."- Joseph Ratzinger)
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To: NYer
My hat's off to those sisters . . . they were really something.

And thanks for the recipe -- I'm going to try it. Is there a good website specifically for Middle Eastern recipes?

13 posted on 02/21/2007 6:29:47 PM PST by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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To: NYer

Do you know if the ashes are supposed to be applied by a priest or deacon? Or are ash ministers acceptable?

I went to a church today where there were three ash ministers, with these words, "Repent and live the gospel."

Maybe it was wrong, but I was so bothered when I got home that I washed off the ashes. Serves me right for going for local convenience - this is the church I walked out of during an Easter Mass.

Mrs


14 posted on 02/21/2007 7:27:57 PM PST by VeritatisSplendor
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To: NYer
I'm never quite certain of how to properly dispose of blessed palms.

They need to be burned (or buried). One time when I was moving, I tried to burn a buch of accumulated palms. I placed them in a metal can and lit them. Even though they were very dry, they didn't burn very intensely or quickly. I think I relit them a few times. Maybe it works better when one has a large bunch of them.

15 posted on 02/21/2007 8:00:19 PM PST by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: NYer

**Seems the staff ran out of palm leaves and decided a store-bought fire log would have to suffice. **

We return the dried out palms to church for a ceremony where they are burned for the ashes on Ash Wednesday. There are always plenty of last years palm leaves and plenty of ashes.

PS. If your church does this, do it on top of a couple of sheets of heavy foil so that the ashes will not be contaminated by anything else that has been burned.


16 posted on 02/21/2007 8:23:33 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: VeritatisSplendor

**I went to a church today where there were three ash ministers, with these words, "Repent and live the gospel."**

Although most Catholics may be familiar with the “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” The Church also provides an alternative prayer when ashes are distributed. “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” which is taken from Mark 1:15.


17 posted on 02/21/2007 8:30:18 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; VeritatisSplendor
The Church also provides an alternative prayer when ashes are distributed. “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” which is taken from Mark 1:15.

Really? When did this change take place? Is there an official directive concerning this change. It would be great if you could post a link. Thanks

18 posted on 02/22/2007 5:55:25 AM PST by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=1922412
quote



I am not aware of any permission for lay people to distribute ashes outside of the USA. In the USA there is no permission for lay people to distribute ashes in Mass.

The Roman Missal has "The priest then places ashes on those who come forward, saying to each: ..." (page 77)

The Ceremonial of Bishops has:

"257 After the blessing, the appointed minister, a concelebrant or a deacon, places ashes on the bishop, as the bishop bows before him, and says, Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel or Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.

258 Then the bishop again puts on the mitre and, seated at the chair or standing, places ashes on the concelebrants, the ministers, and the faithful. The bishop may be assisted if necessary by some of the concelebrants or deacons."

endquote


Me here. The alternate wording is valid. The use of EMHC to distribute ashes seems to be an abuse, but a widespread one. Seems like an oversight in the law.


19 posted on 02/22/2007 6:22:43 AM PST by SoothingDave (Eugene Gurkin was a janitor, cleaning toilets for The Man)
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To: NYer
Next year, try something different, like middle eastern dishes. Hommous and Tabouli or Felafel served up in a wrap with lettuce, tomatos and tahini sauce ... yum! These will scintillate your palate while meeting lenten regulations. They're absolutely delicious! The bonus, of course, is that you will be consuming the very same dishes once cooked by the Blessed Mother and served up to our Lord.

*************

What a good idea! I do get tired of tuna salad. Last Friday, Mr. Trisham was inspired and made a shrimp pizza.

20 posted on 02/22/2007 6:53:46 AM PST by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer

Homous >>

I've had this a few times made by a Jewish friend and a Melkite Catholic friend. Both tasted the same.


21 posted on 02/22/2007 7:01:17 PM PST by Coleus (Roe v. Wade and Endangered Species Act both passed in 1973, Murder Babies/save trees, birds, insects)
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To: NYer

Bumping an interesting thread from ‘07...


22 posted on 02/17/2010 9:39:07 AM PST by ErnBatavia (It's not the Obama Administration....it's the "Obama Regime".)
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To: ErnBatavia
And then there is this approach.

In the Maronite Catholic Church, Lent began on Monday. The priest mixes the ashes with holy water which forms a 'slurry'. This is applied to the forehead with a Q-tip, in the form of a cross. Monday night's mass was very well attended.

If you are wondering why the Eastern Catholic Churches begin Lent on a Monday, it has to do with how the 40 days are calculated. You will find the answer here.

23 posted on 02/17/2010 10:00:12 AM PST by NYer ("Where Peter is, there is the Church." - St. Ambrose of Milan)
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