Quick question on ash wednesday


#1

Hello,

I just came home from Holy Mass and have a quick question regarding the ash wednesday ritual of the marking of the forehead with a cross of ashes.

As some of you may remember from my previous threads, I live in a rural area with a very small parish. Since we were so few people in church, I could hear the priest say the words “remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” each time he drew the cross on a person’s forehead (actually he said it in German, since I live in a German speaking country). However, once it was my turn (I was last in line), he said the phrase in Latin. So he said “Memento homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris”.

I wonder why he said the phrase in Latin when it was my turn, while he said it in German to everyone else? Does the priest always say the phrase in Latin to the last person in line? Even though I don’t know why this happened, I actually feel honored by it.

Thanks in advance for your replies


#2

Maybe he was going back and forth between German and Latin? If you are a foreigner in a German area, maybe he thought that it would be better to say the familiar Latin to you instead of German? Maybe he just likes to change things up?

In my Melkite parish we like to say, "Kyrie, eleison" in dozens of languages. Not just English, Greek, and Arabic. :)


#3

[quote="Zekariya, post:2, topic:314824"]
Maybe he was going back and forth between German and Latin? If you are a foreigner in a German area, maybe he thought that it would be better to say the familiar Latin to you instead of German? Maybe he just likes to change things up?

In my Melkite parish we like to say, "Kyrie, eleison" in dozens of languages. Not just English, Greek, and Arabic. :)

[/quote]

Thank you, but we were only about 10 people in church today, so I could hear him every time he spoke. No I'm not a foreigner and, since it is such a small community, everybody kind of knows everybody else. So he also knows me, and we've chatted a couple of times before and after mass.

That's awesome that you are using so many languages. I would love to get to know the biblical languages better, especially greek.


#4

I had the same thought if You are not German he may have used Latin as universal.


#5

[quote="Markus2007, post:1, topic:314824"]
Hello,

I just came home from Holy Mass and have a quick question regarding the ash wednesday ritual of the marking of the forehead with a cross of ashes.

As some of you may remember from my previous threads, I live in a rural area with a very small parish. Since we were so few people in church, I could hear the priest say the words "remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return" each time he drew the cross on a person's forehead (actually he said it in German, since I live in a German speaking country). However, once it was my turn (I was last in line), he said the phrase in Latin. So he said "Memento homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris".

I wonder why he said the phrase in Latin when it was my turn, while he said it in German to everyone else? Does the priest always say the phrase in Latin to the last person in line? Even though I don't know why this happened, I actually feel honored by it.

Thanks in advance for your replies

[/quote]

Who knows? Ask him. Maybe he knows you like Latin and/or tradition and he did it as a treat for you? Maybe, he did it as a treat for himself. Maybe he did to tick you off? :D


#6

[quote="Markus2007, post:3, topic:314824"]
Thank you, but we were only about 10 people in church today, so I could hear him every time he spoke. No I'm not a foreigner and, since it is such a small community, everybody kind of knows everybody else. So he also knows me, and we've chatted a couple of times before and after mass.

[/quote]

This is the first time (outside the Usus Antiquior) in 40+ years that I've heard of the formula being said in Latin (and considering the times, it's actually interesting that the priest even knew it in Latin).

But anyway, since it seems you're a local and have at least a passing acquaintance with the priest, why not just ask him? :)


#7

[quote="johnnykins, post:5, topic:314824"]
Who knows? Ask him. Maybe he knows you like Latin and/or tradition and he did it as a treat for you? Maybe, he did it as a treat for himself. Maybe he did to tick you off? :D

[/quote]

[quote="malphono, post:6, topic:314824"]
This is the first time (outside the Usus Antiquior) in 40+ years that I've heard of the formula being said in Latin (and considering the times, it's actually interesting that the priest even knew it in Latin).

But anyway, since it seems you're a local and have at least a passing acquaintance with the priest, why not just ask him? :)

[/quote]

Yeah you guys are probably right, I could have just asked him :)

I just didn't want to bother him because of this, I didn't want to make it seem like I had a problem with it. Also, there's well over 3 feet of snow outside and it was freezing cold (the holy water inside the church actually was frozen), so I didn't want either of us to get a cold by hanging around too long.

Maybe I'll mention it to him next time I see him.


#8

He probably got bored of saying it in German and wanted to mix it up a bit! :)


#9

[quote="Markus2007, post:7, topic:314824"]
Yeah you guys are probably right, I could have just asked him :)

I just didn't want to bother him because of this, I didn't want to make it seem like I had a problem with it. Also, there's well over 3 feet of snow outside and it was freezing cold (the holy water inside the church actually was frozen), so I didn't want either of us to get a cold by hanging around too long.

Maybe I'll mention it to him next time I see him.

[/quote]

Wow, where do you live? It sounds very remote! I think it's great that you understood what he said in Latin, most people wouldn't.


#10

[quote="CHRISTINE77, post:9, topic:314824"]
Wow, where do you live? It sounds very remote! I think it's great that you understood what he said in Latin, most people wouldn't.

[/quote]

I don't know a lot of Latin, but I recognzied the phrase because I read a couple of articles on ash wednesday today, before going to mass. Yeah I live in a really small town (rather, village) with very few people. Most of us are Catholics but not very devout.


#11

I’m going at noon (2 hours from now), and I’m sure our church will be packed. For some reason, Ash Wednesday is a very popular service, even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.


#12

[quote="CHRISTINE77, post:11, topic:314824"]
For some reason, Ash Wednesday is a very popular service, even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.

[/quote]

The "reason" to which you refer is this: Horrendously poor catechesis. The average American Catholic is so lamentably ignorant of his faith that he actually believes he is fulfilling an obligation of some kind to his religion by parading about with an ash smudged forehead once a year, despite not setting foot in a church on any other day (except perhaps for Christmas, Palm Sunday, or Easter).

Ash Wednesday has become for lapsed Catholics what St Patrick's Day has long been for Irish Americans; a chance to ostentatiously advertise affiliation with a group that is otherwise completely foriegn to them.


#13

[quote="BTNYC, post:12, topic:314824"]
The "reason" to which you refer is this: Horrendously poor catechesis. The average American Catholic is so lamentably ignorant of his faith that he actually believes he is fulfilling an obligation of some kind to his religion by parading about with an ash smudged forehead once a year, despite not setting foot in a church on any other day (except perhaps for Christmas, Palm Sunday, or Easter).

Ash Wednesday has become for lapsed Catholics what St Patrick's Day has long been for Irish Americans; a chance to ostentatiously advertise affiliation with a group that is otherwise completely foriegn to them.

[/quote]

O well, if it gets them into church and makes them think of their mortality, that's a good thing, I think!;)


#14

[quote="BTNYC, post:12, topic:314824"]
despite not setting foot in a church on any other day (except perhaps for Christmas, Palm Sunday, or Easter)

[/quote]

Our previous pastor mentioned in a homily once that more folks come to Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday masses than to Christmas or Easter masses; he opined that it could be because of the "door prizes" (ash smudged foreheads and palms) :D


#15

Hi have attended Catholic churches somewhat regularly in the past. I'm also an Episcopalian and lastly a Quaker. I would like to know if I have have the imposing of ashes?
I might be thinking of pssibly converting. Pammy
Ps. I'm in my 60's


#16

On our parish facebook page yesterday, one of the priests posted the 5 mass times plus night prayer with ashes today and that if you were coming for mass, please stay for the whole mass as you can get ashes from your fireplace.

Pammy, you're welcome to receive the ashes if you want. If you're thinking of converting, speak to your parish priest about starting RCIA. Age doesn't matter.


#17

[quote="CHRISTINE77, post:11, topic:314824"]
I'm going at noon (2 hours from now), and I'm sure our church will be packed. For some reason, Ash Wednesday is a very popular service, even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.

[/quote]

Just returned from the 1:10 pm Mass here in New Yrok City. The church I went to has 11 Masses today, is continually offering ashes from 7am - 7pm, and confessions for 5 1/2 hours today. It is a beautiful old church with spectacular artwork and architechture, and real votive candles. :)

The church was packed for the 1:10 Mass.

Father had one of the best homilies I've ever heard, even though he was limited in time due to the intense schedule of Masses. He challenged the congregation as to why are you here? Mentioned about whether you'll be here tomorrow? Are you organizing your schedule around God, or is God arranged around your schedule? He challenged us regarding confession, asking have we been to the sacrement before Mass, will we go afterwards? Are we truly doing what God wants us to be doing? He made sure to make the point how God isn't the "feel-good", "as long as you believe in God you're good to go" God; but one who expects you to obey His commandments to attain the ultimate rewards.

I haven't heard a homily like that in years, and I was lucky enough to be able to tell him so after Mass. I actually said to him that I hope one day I'll be able to preach as well, once I am ordained. It was truly a challenging homily, and I loved it!

I didn't want to start a whole thread on this, so I apologize if I've sidetracked this thread a bit; but I wanted to share this great Ash Wednesday story with all of you.

Mike


#18

[quote="Pammy_Miner, post:15, topic:314824"]
Hi have attended Catholic churches somewhat regularly in the past. I'm also an Episcopalian and lastly a Quaker. I would like to know if I have have the imposing of ashes?
I might be thinking of pssibly converting. Pammy
Ps. I'm in my 60's

[/quote]

Yes, non-Catholics are free to receive ashes.

By all means, attend Catholic Masses and continue to learn about the faith. But please refrain from presenting yourself for Holy Communion until you have come fully into the Church. Unlike some Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church does not have an "open communion" policy.

God bless you and best wishes to you in your journey.


#19

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