So, I usually am enlisted to give out Ashes every year and I was again this year at our Campus mass. When I received my ashes I heard the words “Repent and believe in the gospel.”

I prefer to hear the more traditional “Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you will return” most often. But I’m not offended if I don’t hear that.

As a minister I often say the “Remember that you are dust…” words to younger people because I think that’s a message that they don’t take seriously enough. Death seems far away for the young, but yet thousands of young people die every year. I’ve had three friends die before the age of 30 –so it’s not an anomaly.

What prayer do you prefer to hear from the minister or priest in your church? Or what do you say as a minister of distribution? Leave them all here and we’ll discuss later.

0 thoughts on “What Words Did You Hear on Ash Wednesday?”
  1. We heard something like “Turn away from sin and turn toward the Gospel”. I’d never heard anything other than “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return”, so this was new! I’m in a new parish this year. I quite liked the reminder at the start of Lent that we are to turn away from sin and towards the word of God.

  2. My friend Patrick used to ask for the traditional words when he didn’t hear them. I’m also appalled when people innovate their own words. Once he said that he heard: “Be good to others and rejoice in yourself.”

    Ugh. Talk about missing the point.

  3. I attended a Mass near my office in downtown San Francisco this year. I received from the celebrant who used “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” What I think might be an interesting question to ask is what responses the distributors received. While “Amen” is the correct response, apparently “thank you” is also not uncommon. Hmmm…

  4. Lance, the same is true at communion time. Episcopalians say “thank you” in certain circles instead of “amen” and often practice “intinction” (the dipping of the host into the chalice–in their case).

  5. I didn’t think you were to say anything after getting the ashes? Was I expected to say “Amen”? Why do I worry about these things after the fact?

    While I prefer the traditional in most cases, I can also respect that so long as the message and the spirit is unchanged, the words may be slightly different. Who am I to correct those who are trusted with the dispensation of God’s mysteries?

  6. I’ve always heard “Repent and believe in the gospel”, in my parish in Mumbai as well as in Buffalo. Just one year, I happened to get ashes from am older priest who used the traditional “Dust you are and unto dust you shall return” and the way he said it sounded like a condemnation. So I really prefer to hear “Repent and believe in the Gospel”.

  7. I got “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospels” which is fine but there is something heart stopping and very sobering and suitably stark about “Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shall return” and because the latter is what my childhood memories resonate with in Lent I suppose this is what still lingers in my head even if the priest says something else. I think we do need to be pulled up short if we live in the affluent West and aalthough I would not welcome the old fire and brimstone type sermons I think some of what we hear these days is a bit watered down. We need to change !!

  8. I rotate it: to one person I say “Remember…” and to the next, “Turn away…” This way the person is probably hearing both! I think both formulas are good and it is important for both to be heard (maybe not in the way I do it, but in some other ways).

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