So this year, I stumbled across the hashtag, “ashtag” (say that 10x fast). Where you take a selfie of you and your ashes after attending Ash Wednesday Mass or Prayer Service and post it to social media. My first thought was hey that’s cool! What a fun way to kick off the season of Lent with my fellow Catholics, or other denominations that celebrate the practice/season of Lent. I saw a post by Leah Darrow – “fASHion advice: Dirt is the new black this season” with an image that said, “Be fASHionable this Wednesday, go to Mass.” Cute play on words, no? Well of course there was one comment about how Mass is not a show, how you don’t go to be cool or “fashionable” you should only go because you love Jesus. Do I agree with those points? You betcha! Personally, I go to Church because I do LOVE my Lord! HOWEVER, friends, I also don’t think I think we need to be so stuffy in our views that we cannot enjoy a little play on words and encourage our fellow friends in the faith! As I did a little more digging into the trend, I saw priests posting their #ashtag selfies, along with youth groups, men, women, and children of all ages and races posting their pictures to social media. What a beautiful display of community and faith, I thought. Then of course, I stumbled upon the articles, posts, and Tweets coming down on the #ashtaggers – shaming them for parading their “good deeds” on Twitter, rather than letting their good deeds be seen by God alone. Real talk here, there is a definite fine line we must walk when it comes to the publicity of our “deeds”, but is posting an Ash Wednesday image, boasting? Is God asking us to hide a fundamental tradition of the faith? Should we wipe off our ashes before we walk into Starbucks so we don’t offend anyone, make anyone feel uncomfortable, or worse, lead people to think we are parading our good deeds when really we just need a double shot of espresso because your 6 month old is teething? In my humble opinion, I don’t think he is asking us to hide our faith, but rather avoid the deeper, insincere desire to boast your “deeds”, on a character level. The #ashtag selfie if done with the right intention (mind you it’s not our place to judge the motivation or intentions of others) is not a parade of “hey, hey look at me I went to mass! Praise me for my good deed!” but rather a recognition of the fact that that person will be participating in the season of Lent and they are unapologetically living out their faith. In this seemingly Godless world, you really think that giving people a hard time about posting a faith-based picture on social media is productive for the Kingdom? Personally, I would rather see images of ashes reminding us “…that you are dust and to dust you shall return” than Miley Cyrus twerking or something. Friends, as according to scripture, of course you shouldn’t boast your good deeds, but also, don’t hide the fundamentals of your faith! I firmly believe that God looks at the condition and intentions in your heart, rather than your Instagram selfie. God is deeper than that.. He only cares about what is in your heart, what drives you to act or speak the way that you do. If you just donated thousands of dollars to a charity and decide to plaster that information all over social media because you want to feel good – 1. thanks for doing that, 2. THAT is boasting your good deed 😉 I post things that are important or of some significance to my daily life. That’s what my #ashtag is. It’s just me living my faith on a day that happens to be Ash Wednesday. I understand some people may not share my same views, that’s ok! We can agree to disagree, because lucky for us, we don’t have the power to judge, that’s up to God 🙂 Needless to say, Ms. Darrow’s initial post was followed up by another – “I beg you, please, (please!), do not give up your sense of humor this Lent. #AshWednesday #Lent2015” teehee AMEN sista! As I was leaving Starbucks, Venti coffee in hand, and both me and my baby sporting a little dirt cross, I thought about the conversations I just had with the woman in line behind me, the barista, and the little boy who held the door for me on the way out – all stemming from the fact that I did not wipe off the ashes from our foreheads. Thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity to share your Love with the sweet souls I met today. I am proud of my Catholic faith. I love the rich traditions I get to take part in. I am not ashamed of any part of it. Living out your faith is counter cultural. Be counter cultural. Did I hashtag my #ashtag this year? You bet I did.
“Ashes don’t say we’re holy. They say we’re sinners [and that we belong, together, with Jesus].” – Sr. Mary Ann Walsh I hope everyone has a blessed Lenten season, xo – J