Thursday, February 22, 2007

Street Ashes

Yesterday I was on my way down to a business lunch at Saint Ray's heading eastbound on Arsenal in my Caprice and I noticed a crew of cassocks at the corners on Grand. At first I thought it might be some sort of dance troupe or performance art for the crew had some pastel colors and women in the Clergy cloth. I don't usually see large crews of Clergy taking over street corners in the STL.

I took a closer look as I passed by and I noticed that they were handing out ashes. I circled the block. I had to check it out, for it was Ash Wednesday. I pulled into the bus lane on the northbound lanes of Grand to inquire of these drive by street ashes. I knew I had to do this quick for the bike officer on Grand strictly enforces the most minor of infractions, but this was definitely worth the risk of arrest.

As I scurried toward the lady Priest, she looked familiar. She was accompanied by another Priest guy. I had met the woman before at David Early's wedding. She married them. I remember briefly dancing w/ her at reception in David's house on Cherokee. Her name is Theresa. She is very down to earth and in touch. She is the head of the Episcopal Church on Arsenal. She is pretty cool. I am not sure what you call a female Priest, for the strict antiquated construct of my Catholic faith forbids such roles for women. So silly, for I don't even know if I should say Father, Miss, Mother or what. I am so out of tune.

I asked Theresa if it was okay to get an ashing from an Episcopal if I was Catholic. She seemed to indicate it was okay, and I am sure she knows more than me. Besides I know it can't hurt, but it might not "count". I can't even remember if Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Obligation. There are so many rules. She could tell I was in a hurry, and besides I was worried I might get locked up by the Grand bike cops if I got caught, so she gave a quick "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" to my large forehead. Then she smiled to me and requested/required a quick prayer- a fair trade for a proper Priestly ashing on such a massive frontal lobe. I looked around for the bike officer, and I was in the clear so I nodded in agreement. I was unfamiliar with the prayer, but we read it off quickly with the other Priest. We smiled and I thanked them and ran back to my car.

Later that night I asked my Mother, a devout Church every single Sunday Catholic, if what I did was okay. She said it was very "ecumenical" of me. I think I am okay if Mom approves.

I really appreciated this Street Ashing Crew. I wish we had more of it. It made me feel as if I were in Mexico. Very alive. Very in touch with people.


Blogger Grace Fall said...

i wish we had a street ashing crew here...i'm seriously going to miss the fish frys. what am i going to do??? i'm in the land of th wasps.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Steven Fitzpatrick Smith said...

Technically the Wasps were handing out the ashes. But we will miss you at the Fish Fry Fridays. Come back for one!

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Publiceye said...

This was my Favorite Post Ever -- so far -- on your site. I may laugh throughout Lent.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

typically a female priest is called a priestess. However, you could use the more catch all "minister."

8:46 AM  
Blogger Beth R said...

Forgot to mention that it was Rev. Theresa Mithen from St. John's Episcopal Church:

9:40 AM  
Anonymous SS said...

I believe the Episcopalians usually go with "Reverend" or "Minister." The head of the Episcopalian Church is a woman - she is referred to as the Most Reverend...

Here's what Wikipedia tells us about the differences:

Distinctions from the Roman Catholic Church:
The Episcopal Church varies from the Roman Catholic Church in the following ways:

The pope is not granted any special authority.
Clergy are allowed to marry.[
Ordination of women and, in some dioceses, non-celibate homosexuals.
Eucharist is open to all baptized Christians and is offered to all in both bread and wine.
The democratic structure of the church.
The national nature of the church. ECUSA exists separate from the Church of England and other Anglican churches. Bishops do not take vows of obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Communion is not equivalent to the Holy See, although the Archbishop of Canterbury is regarded as "first among equals".

In a nutshell, I think you're in the clear.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reverend" or "Minister"

I think that's "Reverend" or "Mister" ("Ms").

I think "Minister" as a form of direct address is more usually reserved for members of the British Cabinet.

12:40 PM  

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