US Catholic Faith in Real Life

"Ashes to go": Starting Lent at the train station?

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Local Episcopal churches here in Chicago have started distributing ashes a commuter rail and L stations here in Chicago on Ash Wednesday--complete with cassocks, surplices, and stoles for the ordained. Bold and gutsy, I thought. How did people respond?

It looks like many were happy for the opportunity, with plenty of smiles and thanks from commuters. They got some funny looks, too, but overall it was a nice reminder that today is the beginning of Lent for those of us in "Western" Christianity (Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and many liturgical Protestants). In fact it looked like so much fun, I got my ashes right there under the L stop. Would you?

Don't expect to see Catholic priests doing it any time soon, though: Catholic liturgical directives require ashes to be distributed in church, preferably during Mass or another liturgical service. But given the St. Peter's in the Loop here in downtown Chicago offers ashes all day long in the church basement--you just walk in and walk out--why not stand on the sidewalk?