Ash Wednesday - Carl Spitzweg - the end of Carnival.From the Shrine of the Holy Whapping archives, Matthew Alderman ruminates on Ash Wednesday:
Chesterton once imagined a long procession of mysterious priests with their strangely-shaped mitres, hooked croziers, their incense and bells, and their sacred books--what possesses us to leap upon them, disregarding everything else, and seize the Bible from their hands, crying out for sola scriptura, when they, with all their antique ways of mind and worship, were the first to call it sacred? There's always a deeper logic there, if we dig, or if we simply choose to trust in the vast and occasionally cobwebby mansion that is both Tradition and tradition. Public penitence--whether flamboyantly physical or merely simply passing on the cheesecake--is part of the Catholic landscape, and the Catholic imagination. (And I won't pretend that can't get disturbing sometimes, but there it is, no apologies--though the Church has always stressed moderation). We're no angels. We're not supposed to be. While the best thing is a chastened soul, sometimes the only way to get there is via the body. No dessert menus, thanks. Check, please?