The Catholic University of America

Feb. 17, 2010

Lenten Ashes Serve as "Wake-Up Call"



An overflow crowd fills Caldwell Chapel on Ash Wednesday.


An overflow crowd of Catholic University students, faculty and staff received a “wake-up call” on Ash Wednesday. CUA marked the beginning of the season of Lent with Mass in Caldwell Chapel.

In his homily at the Mass, Rev. John Beal, professor of canon law, noted that a phrase uttered to him when he occasionally ran into the undertaker in his hometown of Titusville, Pa., always served as an uncomfortable reminder of his mortality.

“Well John, I’ll be seeing you,” the undertaker would say as they ended a conversation.

Father Beal suggested that Ash Wednesday presents Catholics with a similar reminder that they will become dust one day.

Concelebrant Monsignor Thomas Green, professor of canon law; Father Beal; and student Eucharistic ministers placed ashes in the shape of a cross on the foreheads of those gathered at the Mass to remind them to repent. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” they said as they marked each person’s head.

While the season of Lent calls Catholics to pray, fast and give to others, Father Beal said it is also a season of hope and a time to realize that “it’s not all about us.”

After Mass, students distributed pieces of purple yarn to be worn on wrists and to serve as reminders of Lenten obligations.

Over the next 6 ½ weeks of Lent, Catholic University students will prepare spiritually for the celebration of Easter with Stations of the Cross prayed every Monday night (except March 8 during spring break) and adoration in Caldwell Chapel. Campus Ministry will sponsor a Lenten retreat the weekend of March 19. On Thursday, March 24, students will lead a 24-hour fast.


A student passes out programs for Mass.                 

Beth Campbell, a junior from Rockville, Md., places ashes on the forehead of Clair Finnegan, a freshman from Quakertown, Pa.



Rev. John Beal, left, and Monsignor Thomas Green, right, concelebrate Mass.


Freshman Freddie Romano, center, and doctoral candidate Trevor Crowell, right, pray during Mass.