Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ash Wednesday: A Story You Won't Forget

I am struggling with this Lenten season already: I have not started a devotional yet, I have not set out our Lenten decor and I am feeling a little unmotivated. I feel like these are the very same reasons I need to get my butt in gear and finalize my late preparations and immerse myself in this blessed season as soon as possible and so this is the reason behind this post. I wanted to refocus on what is truly important and share all about my awesome experience this past Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is the official kick off day of the Lenten season and for Catholics means a day of fasting and abstinence (no eating meat). It is Day 1 in your Lenten sacrifice, additional prayers and alms-giving. Honestly, I have a deep love of Lent. It is always an enlightening experience and I feel that I make great strides in my vocation as a wife, mother and friend while growing closer in my relationship to God. 

Well, this Ash Wednesday was a little different and I can promise you that I will never forget it.

I have two children, Little Man (age 9) and Goalie (age 6). Little Man is old enough to receive Communion and often Altar Serves on a regular basis in our parish. Goalie on the other hand is too young to really participate in the Mass besides as a parishioner and he is often saddened that he cannot receive Communion or help as an Altar boy yet. In addition to Goalie's sadness about just getting to sit with mommy, he is developmentally delayed and undergoing autism testing (they are pretty sure he has Aspergers). I am sharing this background so you can truly understand my experience this past Wednesday.

Little Man was Altar Serving at the Ash Wednesday Mass we attended in the evening and Goalie and I were sitting in the front pew, as we always do, so we can see Little Man in action and Goalie can be close enough to the Choir to feel as if he is a part of it. Mass was going great! No real outbursts from Goalie and Little Man was doing an amazing job attending to his duties.

The ashes were blessed and we were in line to receive them on our foreheads. I can't even begin to describe Goalie's excitement to receive his ashes. He had made it seem like it would be the highlight of his life! We were blessed with our ashes and returned to our pew. 

Then it happened....

Goalie is holding his hands in front of him like he is fighting the urge to grab his face with both his hands and his face is contorted like he is in pain!

I ask him, "Are you Okay?" "What's wrong?"

He begins to shake his little hands and points at his head while exclaiming "My head is on fire!"

I was completely taken by surprise by this answer and obviously his head was not on fire but I think I sat there for a minute of two starring at my child while he was having a complete sensory meltdown. When I finally understood what was happening, I calmly explained that the ashes maybe felt strange but I assured Goalie he was not on fire and he was okay. This conversation about Goalie's head being on fire went on until right before the Consecration of the Eucharist. The poor little guy couldn't move past the idea that his forehead was on fire so in my desperation to make him feel better and screaming "My head is on fire!",  I allowed him to rub his ashes off. 

Looking back on this story now, it is actually quite funny, I mean it is the kind of story people joke about happening but I got to live it. 

If you think that's the end of my story you would be wrong, here's the icing on the cake.

After Goalie had calmed himself, I realized that I heard the bell ringing that is normally rung when the Eucharist is being blessed. But the Eucharist was not being held up by the priest yet. I looked up toward the Altar Servers to see Little Man ringing the bells like there is no tomorrow and he is just grinning from ear to ear. It was his first time getting the honor of ringing the bells and he obviously was excited and also had no clue what he was doing. One of the other servers was trying to get his attention to stop, but their efforts were in vain.

Between Little Man ringing the bells throughout the entire Consecration and Goalie's head "being on fire". It was quite the eventful Mass to say the least. 

 As promised I guaranteed you a story you would not forget! I can promise you that although this was the most hilarious Ash Wednesday, it was also one of the most special. Goalie was able to receive ashes for the first time (even though it was short lived) and Little Man had his first experience with more responsibility as an Altar Server and was extremely enthusiastic. We all made a memory we would never forget and found ourselves closer to God, that's what it is all about anyway right? The picture above is our #ashtag we shared in honor of Ash Wednesday.

Now, I want to hear from my readers! How is your start to Lent going? Are you feeling like me, behind and unorganized? Or have you already dove into this amazing season with two feet and feeling the blessings that come with a meaningful Lenten season? Have you had any experiences like me with burning heads and an excited Altar boy?

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday:

Gracious God, today begins a period of inner reflection and examination. The days stretch before me and invite me inward to that silent, holy space that holds your Spirit. This special time beckons me to see my life through Christ's eyes and the truth and reality of your love incarnate. Give me the grace to enter the space of these days with anticipation of our meeting. And, when I open my soul to your presence, let your loving kindness flow over me and seep into the pockets of my heart. I ask this for the sake of your love.



  1. Oh, my!! Such an excitingly eventful kick-off - simply because the eventful was pure, innocent, kid-eventful! I am sure Jesus was well pleased with your boys!!

    We had a stomach bug that hit us all full-force overnight (in the early hours) of Wednesday morning. So, I missed Ash Wednesday, and feel as though I am playing catch-up.

    Love the #ashtag for you guys. 😍

    1. I agree! I will never forget this Ash Wednesday! LOL It was special to us all I think. I am so sorry to hear about your family getting ill. I hope everyone is better now and you are able to feel better prepared for this week of Lent. I am feeling behind as well so I am right there with you!

  2. "Unforgettable" seems like a good way to describe it. :)

    1. Oh yes! It is amazing how my children have made my life so much more colorful and hilarious! LOL

  3. Bless their sweet little hearts. My Lent definitely got off to an unexpected start as I missed Ash Wednesday Mass due to my husband developing bursitis so that I had to spend many hours picking him up and taking him to doctors until it was too late to get anywhere. I expect I am supposed to find a message in this. ;-)

    1. Oh no! I am so sorry to hear about how your day unfolded. I hope everything is working itself out now. I am sure there was a message and hopefully you found it comforting!

  4. My youngest is 7 and will be receiving the Sacraments this spring. (Just had his first Reconciliation last weekend!)

    Well, as much as he wants to be a full participant, he started having fits about the ashes on his head within moments of them being placed there. So far as I know, he is not on the spectrum. So, it wasn't just you with a child more than anxious to get the ashes off their forehead.

    Thanks so much for sharing this in the 40 Days of Seeking Him link up. I love seeing how Lent is unfolding for other bloggers. I know mine sure isn't going how I planned, either.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I am so excited to hear your son will be receiving his Sacraments! That is truly an exciting time to enjoy! This whole Lent has been a little off for me but such is life. It is a beautiful chaos :)