“What is that s— on your face?” The question was posed by one of my daughter’s friends about a year ago. The friend was trying to be “sassy” and apologized profusely when my daughter explained that it was Ash Wednesday. The other day, I told my daughter about a Catholic website which offered the following advice:
It is inevitable that if you get your ashes early enough in the day, you will run into someone who tells you that there is something (“dirt”, “smudge”, “stuff”, etc.) on your forehead. Remember, they are being polite in telling you this. So, return the favor by explaining what the ashes are for (a Biblical sign of repentance) and share your faith by explaining Lent and Ash Wednesday to them.
There are many ways to observe Lent. Several of my Facebook friends will give up social media until Easter. The same Catholic website even offers an assortment of “Back in 40 Days” profile pictures to explain one’s Lenten absence. I will miss their online presence, mainly because of the current political climate. Without my Christian friends, my newsfeed will be occupied by acquaintances who sometimes make posts that are anti-Catholic. I suspect that they cling so strongly to their own opinions that they don’t realize how it must look to those who disagree. I don’t demand that anyone agree with my religious beliefs but I am surprised when “open-minded” people are unable to show respect.