Wash it off

by Fr. Jeff

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord…

Listening to the prayers of another priest in the funeral home, I was sitting in the chapel praying for a parishioner who had recently passed away. Then I was notified of the death of a cousin.

Looking up, I focused on that peculiar sign on the priest’s forehead:

Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.

With no sin, there would be no death. But now, we are surrounded by death. Ash Wednesday reminds us.

It was a question from the children at school that helped me understand:

Father, when can we wash it off?

We are marked with ashes as we begin Lent to remind ourselves of our impending death and our need for repentance. We look forward to Easter when You unlock the waters of baptism and wash away death and sin itself.

Standing at the sink and holding the washcloth, I find my heart is anxious. I want Easter; I want eternal life; I want You to 

wash it off.