A Surprise on Ash Wednesday

A friend surprised me today when, after asking me about Ash Wednesday and finding out what time I was planning to go to Mass, she asked whether she could come along. She was very excited by the idea of it. She amused me in asking about the service, including whether the ashes were made during the Mass. I unfortunately had to disappoint by explaining that the ashes were prepared earlier with old palm from Palm Sunday the previous year. When we stepped out our last class to rush over to the campus chapel, she emanated much more enthusiasm than me. We sat in the choir loft together, looking over the people below and having a full view of the altar. It was a good service, except for the homily, which the visiting deacon delivered with a gloomy tone. I apologized for the negativity my friend had to listen to, but she laughed and said that it was interesting to listen to. She followed along with all the routines in the Mass, and offered me a hug during the Sign of Peace after learning that it can be shared. Overall she seemed to enjoy the service, particularly the music.

I’ll be honest, I was a little uncomfortable by the idea my friend coming at first. I’m not one to share much about my faith, and I become very self-conscious when I explain the Church’s beliefs, which I don’t yet comfortable claim as my own. I appreciated that my friend came and that she expressed genuine interest in coming. Her company gave me a chance to be more aware of the Mass and the things I profess during the service. Mass has become more of a routine to me than genuine prayer, and having someone who is not religious come along challenged me to think what I do believe and whether I just go through the motions passively because the faith is something that I’ve grown accustomed to. Overall, it was a good learning experience for both of us.

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