So yesterday, Bishop Trautman of Erie, PA, went to a local mall (where, to be fair, he had a chapel built in 2008) and gave out Ashes and hear confessions with another priest. I remember in college priests being outside of the classroom buildings giving out ashes. A priest I know told a story of giving out Ashes on a bus and at random subway stops in New York City.
The question I raise is the appropriateness of this. My take is that it is a great idea. We need to be public in our proclamation of faith and because Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, this provides us with an opportunity to get a bit creative.
Now all that being said, I also think that we need to provide an invitation to come to mass as well when we make those trips. So not only do you need to give out the ashes but perhaps a holy card with a Lenten meditation and directions to your church on it. It’s important to provide a link back.
What do you think? Is this appropriate? What other innovative methods have you heard people doing on Ash Wednesday?