Ash Wednesday 2020

By Joe Byrne

Once again, this year Jonah House was able to send representatives to the Ash Wednesday gathering at the White House in Washington, DC, organized by Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, and other associated peace organizations. Paul Magno and myself were those representatives.

For one thing, we usually attend because Jonah House is usually responsible for bringing the ashes from one of our wood-burning stoves. Also, I usually cantor some of the songs.

The service contained readings, both biblical and contemporary, along with prayers for peace and justice. After readings and songs, Fr. Joe Nangle of the Assisi Community in Washington, DC, blessed the ashes. The ashes were sent around and each participant was anointed with ashes, and anointed the forehead of someone else with ashes.

Then participants were invited to draw symbols on Pennsylvania Avenue, such as crosses and peace signs, with the ashes Jonah House brought.

Paul was inspired to kneel and pray before the entrance gate to the White House, but was not bothered (or arrested) by the police.

I was inspired to create ash “shadows” of people to signify the shadow outlines created when people are incinerated by nuclear bombs.

Unfortunately, they more resemble snow angels!

The halo was not my idea. Nor was the missing (or “achilles”) heal. The latter seems much more appropriate than the former.

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