I know these people who don’t love ashtags. People like Monique Ocampo, who is even giving up selfies for Lent. I get it, but I am not these people. Five reasons, six for the intrepid, and the first one will shock you:
Reason #1: I like people.
I particularly like the people I’m friends with on social media. So I like to see photos of them. It makes me happy to be able to see you with your cat, or your birthday cake, or your brand new, freshly-repentant ashes. It’s like getting Christmas cards all year round, only without the thorny problem of where to store them all.
Reasons #2 – 5: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.
Take, for instance, the Dies Irae, which was the chant during the distribution of ashes at the Mass I attended today:
Day of wrath and doom impending,
David’s word with Sibyl’s blending!
Heaven and earth in ashes ending!
O what fear man’s bosom rendeth
When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
On whose sentence all dependeth!
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Through earth’s sepulchers it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck, and nature quaking,
All creation is awaking,
To its judge an answer making.
Lo! the book exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded;
Thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge His seat attaineth,
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding,
When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us!
Think, kind Jesu, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous Incarnation;
Leave me not to reprobation.
Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the Cross of suffering bought me;
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Righteous Judge! for sin’s pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution,
Ere that day of retribution.
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning;
Spare, O God, Thy suppliant groaning!
Through the sinful woman shriven,
Through the dying thief forgiven,
Thou to me a hope hast given.
Worthless are my prayers and sighing,
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
With Thy favored sheep O place me,
Nor among the goats abase me,
But to Thy right hand upraise me.
While the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me with Thy Saints surrounded.
Low I kneel, with heart submission,
Crushed to ashes in contrition;
Help me in my last condition!
Ah! that day of tears and morning!
From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgment must prepare him;
Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord all-pitying, Jesu Blest,
Grant them Thine eternal rest. Amen.
English translation by William Josiah Irons (1848), via EWTN. I know! I made you skim over the whole thing! Here it is in Latin:
I like ashtags the same way I have to constantly tell myself not to stare at everyone going up to receive Holy Communion, even though the sight of that, too, makes me happy. It makes me happy to see people making a stab at repentance, even if they’re doing it terribly imperfectly and for all the wrong reasons. It’s still more than nothing.
It’s so much more than nothing that I think Satan would delight to see everyone get all embarrassed and too-holy-for-public-viewing and not let anyone know that we have some vague awareness of how wretchedly miserable we are and how desperately we need a Savior.
Reason #6: Father told us to*. This is a bonus reason you get to read if you stuck it out this far. At Mass today Father warned us, repeatedly, not to go quick wipe our ashes off. People are desperate for Christian witness. Let them see for one day that yeah, as much as you stink at it, you’re in. There’s more to you than your office face.
And to back up action with words, he wet the ashes so that we’d get some seriously-sticking big black crosses to wear at
*Father didn’t actually use the words as much as you stink at it. And I don’t think he specifically mentioned social media, maybe because it was the downtown lunch Mass, and it wouldn’t really do to tell people to go back to work and quick post their photos on Facebook. Or maybe because he doesn’t know what ashtagging is, or maybe because he’s with Monique on this one
Actually I was kind of daydreaming during bits of the homily, and also paying too much attention to the excessively cute baby and preschooler in the pew in front of me, so I was looking all happy and joyful instead of repentant like a good girl. But he definitely said the part about not wiping off. He probably said it more than twice, but I heard it twice, for sure.