It's a strange day for me. Pancakes are certainly off the agenda when the RW is on Weightwatcher meals, but it's still a significant day. Eyebrows are singed as palm crosses are burned to make the required amount of ashes I'll need tomorrow. I've been know to use a wee accelerant to hasten things along, and hope that the little chrism I use ensures that my ashes smell ok in the end!
In my first Charge, there was an incredibly sweet old lady called Nellie who was in her eighties. On my first Shrove Tuesday she pulled me aside and said, "Father, you do not know this, but I am the biggest sinner in this parish, and I will be wanting a significantly large black cross on my forehead tomorrow! Next day, in all it's solemnity, Nellie appeared at the altar, with her sparkling blue eyes and the widest grin I've ever seen. "Go for it!", she whispered. I certainly did, but it took me quite some while to regain my composure afterwards!
In the same parish, the Roman Catholic priest borrowed a van and parked in the local supermarket car park, dispensing ashes to the shoppers who had failed to attend mass. One year a young lad came up and said, "I'm a Proddie, mister, so can ah git ashed tae?" He replied, "You'll get ashed because you're a Proddie, son. C'mere!"
Speaking to a retired headmaster last night, he was reminiscing about another priest in another parish who walked the corridors of his school on Ash Wednesday, ashing every pupil he could get his hands on between class periods!
Ah! For the old days, eh?