Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Leave the past in ashes....

Ash Wednesday: You are dust and to dust you shall return.

It's a humbling thought that we all, one day, will turn back into that from which Christ made us. Yesterday, while at work at my parish, there was an unusual smell wafting in the air. It was a strong smell that made me think, at first, that someone was cooking something exotic in the parish kitchen. As I made my way outside to my car, the smell got stronger and as I looked up into the sky trying to figure out what the smell was, I saw it! Stupid me! It was the burning of last year's palms being done right outside the office windows! Traditionally, Catholics take last year's palms from Palm Sunday..burn them... and use them as the ashes for Ash Wednesday Masses. It is a comforting thought for me to know that the palms given/held/stored/prayed over by our many parishioners were being used in such a profound way? Their palms are on my forehead right now! Can you imagine the amount of LIFE that those palms have witnessed in the last year? From the first day where they were fresh and green, placed in a bible in someone's home? Or tucked behind a crucifix in a bedroom? Maybe they were folded into a cross shape and stored in the car visor? Or placed in someone's china cabinet?

We have our old palms prominently displayed behind a cross in our eating area. I forgot to take these old palms to the church for burning, but maybe we'll just burn our own as a family tonight. It can be a symbol of our familial beginning of Lent. ......Reminding us to "Come to the Lord with all our hearts and leave the past in ashes".

I love being Catholic.


Mom Nancy said...

Hi, Georgie!

I didn't realize that you could take your old palms to the church to have them burned. I guess that's what comes from being a convert; I don't have those family traditions to fall back on.

Georgie Tamayo Clemens said...


It's not your fault. Some parishes advertise to their parishoners to bring their old palms...while others do not. It just may not be a regular thing at your parish.

I really like the idea though.

Andrew Casad said...

Getting beyond the hideous acrid smoke that gave me the feeling that I spent the afternoon in gehenna and stank up our house just from the residue that was on my clothes, it was an amazingly humbling thing to burn the palms that, like you said, had adorned and sanctified the homes of so many faithful. Turning those palms that we had all so gloriously held on Palm Sunday, many of which had been written upon with the date of their blessing by the faithful, into the ashes by which we would all be called to repentance and acknowledge our own mortality was on the face of it a dirty task but one that gave me so much that I felt both privelged and unworthy to be handle. It also happened to be a great moment for catechesis, as many of the school children came over to see what was going on, thus making the dust to dust all the more present. I echo your sentiment--I love being Catholic!

Georgie Tamayo Clemens said...


Thanks for your sacrifice! I saw you back there burning ashes, and wanted to come and see for myself, but alas....I had to pick up Gus from his school and I was late. Next time..let me know when and where and I'll help!