catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 5 :: 2009.02.27 — 2009.03.13


An ashy cross

I want an ashy cross on my forehead.

To tell the truth, I have wanted an ashy cross smeared on my forehead ever since seventh grade when Marsha and Linda left social studies class to go…well, that was the mystery, exactly where they went and what happened – at least a mystery to me.  I only saw that they came back to class with the ashes on their foreheads connecting them to the Church, to the cross etched on their bodies.  Somehow holier than the rest of us. And quieter.  And somehow more…I am not exactly sure what, just more.

It would be so much easier, I thought, if we could all just have an ashy cross on our foreheads as a testimony that we were Christians.  It used to be that Christians wore crosses: the Catholics wore crosses with Christ still on them and the Protestants wore empty crosses, but those crosses meant something. They spoke of faith and relationship. Today, the cross has become a meaningless fashion statement.

However, the cross of ashes still has meaning; it signifies that the wearer has been to church, that the wearer is in mourning, aware of and sorry for his or her sin. I want an ashy cross because it would be so easy to just let the cross be a silent witness of my faith. 

But I have come to understand that God has asked something far greater of us, of me, not just to wear an ashy cross or a silver one or even a habit to set us apart from those who do not have a relationship with God.  He has asked us to live a holy life, a life marked by love for one another, for personal sacrifice for the good of others, for his glory, not our own. 

An ashy cross on my forehead would be so much simpler, a sign that could say it all and just get me off the hook.

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