Daily Meditation for February 19, 2024

A cherished Lenten ritual in many Christian churches is signing each worshiper’s forehead with ashes in the shape of a cross, as a reminder of repentance. In some congregations, dishes of ashes are passed around and each person anoints the the next. One Ash Wednesday, a middle-aged lady was standing next to a young man of about age 18. Instead of the usual one quick motion, he carefully drew the two lines on her forehead, then took more ashes on his thumb to even out the lines and make them nice and straight. He looked as absorbed in this task as Michelangelo must have been while painting God’s eyebrow on the Sistine Chapel wall. The reverence of those few minutes stayed with the lady all day as she wore this cross. She pondered how small rituals thoughtfully done carry great meaning. Years later she still remembers the Wednesday she got a face painting in church!

By Mary Jackle, OSB