Showing posts with label ashes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ashes. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Collect of the Day: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

(Excerpt from T S Eliot's "Ash Wednesday")

Go on.  Read it all.

Perhaps belaboring the obvious, but there it is. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


It is necessary that at the beginning of this fast, the Lord should show Himself to us in His mercy. The purpose of Lent is not so much expiation, to satisfy the divine justice, as a preparation to rejoice in His love. And this preparation consists in receiving the gift of His mercy—a gift which we receive in so far as we open our hearts to it, casting out what cannot remain in the same room with mercy.

Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as a terrible judge, we would not confidently await His mercy, or approach Him trustfully in prayer. Our peace, our joy in Lent are a guarantee of grace.

And in laying upon us the light cross of ashes, the Church desires to take off our shoulders all other heavy burdens—the crushing load of worry and guilt, the dead weight of our own self-love. We should not take upon ourselves a “burden” of penance and stagger into Lent as if we were Atlas, carrying the whole world on his shoulders.

Perhaps there is small likelihood of our doing so. But in any case, penance is conceived by the Church less as a burden than as a liberation. It is only a burden to those who take it up unwillingly. Love makes it light and happy. And that is another reason why Ash Wednesday is filled with the lightness of love.

From Seasons of Celebration by Thomas Merton.

The emphasis is mine.  The words in bold text struck me like a thunderbolt because they are so very true and wonderful as applied to the beginning of the season of Lent.  Let us pray that our hearts may open to receive the lightness of God's love.

And then from my friend, Marthe: 
Ash Wednesday

Rituals, meant to teach, can become
public piety, for show
gloom, dismal fasting, tests to divide,
exclude, not repair the breach
greed and error tears in mortal souls
too weary to hear blessing.
Let these ashes signal life, not threat.

Marthe G. Walsh
Amen and amen. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Julie Green carving the cross
Residents will soon have a new way to remember their deceased loves ones in Thibodaux.
St. John’s Episcopal Church on Jackson Street is putting the finishing touches on a scatter garden, which will eventually be home to countless cremated ashes.

“We want it to be a place where you can come visit your ancestors who are there,” said the Rev. Ron Clingenpeel, priest in charge for St. John’s, which dates back to 1843. “It is a place where one can encounter God, holiness and a real sense of peace in their lives, knowing this is where their loved ones are.”

The scatter garden will be a space where families can spread the ashes of their loved ones and go to remember them in the following years, Clingenpeel said.
The cross that will stand in the scatter garden is beautiful.  Julie, a parishioner, is a true artist, and her carving is a work of art.  And what a fine idea to have the scatter garden at St John's.

Enclosure walls of the future scatter garden

The grounds of the scatter garden are unfinished. All that's complete are the brick wall segments that will define the garden area.

My family knows of my wish to be cremated...not yet, of course,...but I had not decided where I wanted my ashes scattered.  I knew I did not want them placed in a container on the mantlepiece, and with the advent of the scatter garden, my decision was easy.

UPDATE: The intention is to scatter the ashes, but if family and friends of the deceased would prefer burial of the ashes in a biodegradable container, then that will be an alternative.  Of course, the garden will be made beautiful with landscaping. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
(Book of Common Prayer)

Joel 2:12-14
Yet even now, says the Lord,
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,
and relents from punishing.
Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain-offering and a drink-offering
for the Lord, your God?
Psalm 103:8-14
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Ann Fontaine reflects on Ash Wednesday at what the tide brings in.
Why do we gather on this day? Why do we receive ashes on our foreheads with the sign of the cross? What are we doing here? Do you notice the gospel asks us not to make a display and yet many of us wear our ashes all day. I have been thinking about this "disconnect" between our actions and our readings.
Read the rest of Ann's fine post.

In the end, it's about the heart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

While I kept silence, my body wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’,
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all who are faithful
offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
shall not reach them.
You are a hiding-place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

And so I welcome the Lenten season, for it is time.
Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

T S Eliot - "Ash-Wednesday"

And God is good.
And God is love.
And God will have mercy.

And God is good.
And God is love.
And God will have mercy.

Photo from Wikipedia.