To Remember, With Great Relief

Thomas Merton on this day in 1950:

And yet Ash Wednesday is full of joy. In a minute we will sing None and go barefoot to get ashes on our heads to remember, with great relief, that we are dust. The source of all sorrow is the illusion that of ourselves we are anything but dust. God is all our joy and in him our dust can become splendor.

I sit here in the corner of the upstairs Scriptorium and look out the window at the bare trees in the préau and the gray guest house wall and at my own little happy corner of the sky.



About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to To Remember, With Great Relief

  1. David D. says:

    I received my ashes today at a very busy commuter church on the way to work. As in previous years, there were two priests dispensing ashes in the narthex with long lines snaking out the doors. I would estimate that during the morning rush alone, there must have been at least a thousand people. That so many embrace an explicit reminder of their mortality always gives me great comfort and hope.

  2. JCF says:

    I love this quote. I’ve had it saved, long-hand, in my prayerbook for years, but in a slightly extended version. Continuing on from the above:

    “The great sorrow of mankind is turned to joy by the love of Christ, and the secret of happiness is no longer to see any sorrow except in the light of Christ’s victory over sorrow. And then all sorrow contributes somehow to our happiness.”

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