Tag Archives: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday, Walmart, and a Wonderful Friend

7 Mar

“Sharing a smile is kind of like the flu. The more you are around people, they can’t help but catch it too.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Part of the journey in life is slipping and falling along the way; in these times true friends are the ones who pick you up and dust you off.”

― Ken Poirot


I went to Mass this morning for Ash Wednesday. I was pleasantly surprised that the church was nearly full at 8:30 in the morning on a work and school day. I’m sure the evening Mass will be crowded too.

Not everyone knows the reason that we have ashes placed on our foreheads. When I was a little girl, I had no idea what the symbolism meant, but I knew it was a sacred right, and every time I looked in a mirror, I felt special.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting and repentance. … Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

When Father Don gave his homily, he basically told us that as we begin this Lenten season, it wasn’t so much about giving up candy or cookies or alcohol, but more about focusing on being more aware of our duties as Christians. We should speak kinder, be more generous, help one another, be kind to strangers, reflect and pray more often, and just be aware of how blessed we are and share those blessings. As I sat there, I wondered what more I could do during Lent to be a better Catholic, a better version of myself. That’s pretty tough… she giggles in silence, as I’m already pretty amazing. (Little inside joke)

After Mass, I waited a while until the church was nearly empty. I wanted to take a picture of the crown of thorns near the altar with the backdrop of the beautiful new sanctuary. A picture is worth a thousand words…

I decided to stop at the bank and Walmart on the way home. I needed to have the auto service department check my tires. I keep getting a low tire symbol light up on my dashboard every few weeks. The man looked at the offending tire a bit, filled it with air and the light went away. He said to come back if it continued.

Since I was already there, I decided to go in and shop a while and get a few things. Time to stock up on more chocolate chips and marshmallows for brownies. I was running low, plus I was going to bake some brownies for my firemen when I got home.

As I wandered aimlessly through the aisles, I needed to go check the craft and art supply section. I absolutely didn’t need a thing, but sometimes I just need to look at paint and brushes and markers and fabric, just to get my “artist fix.” If you are a crafter or artist, you know what I’m talking about. While I was looking at the tubes of paint, my cell phone rang. I was so thrilled and delighted when I saw the name. I answered with a giggling, “Miss Della! How are you?”

My dear sweet friend Miss Della moved to Tennessee a few years ago. We keep in touch on Facebook, but we haven’t spoken in ages. She said she was looking at her Facebook page and saw my picture and something I posted and she was compelled to call just to say hello because she missed me and the ladies at Towne Creek. Then, she proceeded to tell me how much joy I’ve brought into her life and how much she loves me and thinks about me all the time. Well, we were both crying on the phone. That was one of the sweetest and kindest things I’ve heard in a very long time. It made my heart burst with joy. What perfect timing. That brightened my entire day and I’m still glowing. Love you Miss Della.

After we hung up, I continued strolling along the aisles and grinning from ear to ear. When I was checking out, Miss Debra the checker smiled and said, “How was the service?” I wasn’t sure why she would ask that. I didn’t have any special service at Walmart. Then, she pointed to the ashes on my forehead, OH! I forgot about the big ol’ cross of ashes on my head. I told her it was a very nice service and started telling her about our new church. She said several employees and friends also go to St. Gabriel’s and told her how beautiful it was. As we chatted, the lady behind me with a cart overflowing with groceries asked, “Where did you go to get ashes?” She explained that she was new to McKinney and recently moved here.

Well of course, the three of us ladies were laughing and chatting, and discussing the new church and the community. I dug into my purse and took out a business card with my name and phone number, and told the new lady, Diana, that she should call me sometime and I’d be happy to answer any questions about the area or show her around town. Miss Debra just smiled a big smile and said, “I just love what’s happening here. This is so nice.”

Well, you know me. I had to get out my phone and take some selfies of my new friends.

Miss Debra is such a sweet happy lady.

Hopefully Diana will call me soon just to say hi and keep in touch.

I’m still not sure why I seem to be so lucky and blessed, but I do know that a smile and a kind word is contagious. It’s kind of like the flu, the more you’re around people, they can’t help but catch it too.

Wednesday:) Why, What’s That On Your Head?

11 Feb

“All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one’s heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.” 

― Cormac McCarthy, The Road


Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. A day that we literally wear our hearts on our sleeves, or more like on our foreheads. A day to think about mortality, about what is really important in life. When I knelt to pray, I once again gave thanks and asked for continued strength. I prayed, “Change my heart.”  This made me think of one of my favorite hymns, “Change our hearts.” Well, guess what was the opening hymn. Yep, “Change our hearts.” This happened to me once before, over a year ago, and I sang and I cried. Today, I sang and I smiled. I smiled because my heart is changing. The pain of betrayal and anger is still there in my heart, but it’s softer now. A tiny bit softer. 

When I was at church with everyone else, it wasn’t unusual, but after Mass this morning, I needed to stop at the bank and the grocery store. At the store, I totally forgot I had ashes on my head because, well, I didn’t see myself. But, when people gave me a strange look, or a double take, then I remembered. At the bank, Independent Bank on Virginia, the girls there all know me. They just said, “Hi, Miss Toni. You just come from church?” I don’t even need to show a card or punch a code, they just type my name in on their screen, and take care of my transactions. That’s what I love about my town.


St. Anthony Messenger

By Susan Hines-Brigger

Ashes to Ashes

If there ever is a day of the year when you can spot Catholics at a glance, Ash Wednesday is it. It is the one time when Catholics literally wear their faith on their foreheads. In fact, Masses on Ash Wednesday are better attended than Masses on most holy days, except Christmas.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent for Catholics. The ashes we receive on our forehead in the shape of a cross serve as an outward sign of our sinfulness and need for penance. The ashes also symbolize our mortality, a reminder that one day we will die and our bodies will return to dust. Hence the traditional words, remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.
The tradition of receiving ashes has its origins in the Old Testament, where sinners performed acts of public penance. It was Pope Urban II who in the 11th century recommended that all Catholics take part in the practice of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. In the 12th century it became customary that the ashes used on Ash Wednesday were made by burning the previous year’s palm branches.

Ash Wednesday is also a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. According to Church law, Catholics older than the age of 14 are supposed to abstain from meat. In addition, those between the ages of 18 and 59, not including pregnant or nursing mothers, should eat only one full meal. Smaller amounts of food�not as much as a full meal�may be eaten in the morning and either at lunchtime or dinner, depending on when you eat your full meal.



Wednesday:Words of Wisdom~ Ashes to Ashes

19 Feb

Without peace, all other dreams vanish and are reduced to ashes.
~Jawaharial Nehru
I did something I haven’t done in quite a few years. I went to 5 o’clock Mass for Ash Wednesday. Going to church on Sunday has been very uplifting, but today I needed a little something extra. When I called Mom this morning, she asked me, “Why do we put ashes on our foreheads?” So, I looked it up on Google. There were a lot of explanations, but basically it’s to remind us we came from ashes, we return to ashes. There’s a lot more, but that’s my take on it.

When I arrived at St. Gabriel’s, I assumed it wouldn’t be very crowded at 5 pm because everyone would be at work. It was packed, even more than on Sunday, many familiar faces. I knelt down with my usual prayer in my head. “Thank you Lord for you strength, and getting me through each day.”

The strange part, well, maybe not strange as much as emotional part was that I also prayed, “I’m still in pain, still angry, I can’t forgive. PLEASE change my heart.” I used those words. “Change my heart.” Then the opening song started. I grabbed my pamphlet, turned to the opening song, and started to sing along. The song was, “Change our Hearts.” I didn’t see that coming.

Tears started streaming down my face. A sign? You know that old saying, “If you’re looking for a sign, this is it.” The signs are always there, it’s just hard to see when your eyes are full of tears. Anyway, I just kept singing, wiping away my tears in between stanzas. I was singing. I was happy. I was sad. Mass continued with dispensing of ashes, Communion, and more singing. I went home feeling stronger. It was a good day!

Rory Cooney

Change our hearts this time,

your word says it can be.

Change our minds this time,

your life could make us free.

We are the people your call sets apart.

Lord, this time change our hearts.

Verse 1.

Brought by your hand to the edge of our dreams,

one foot in paradise, one in the waste.

Drawn by your promises, still we are lured

by the shadows and the chains we leave behind. But …


Verse 2.

Now as we watch you stretch out your hands,

offering abundances, fullness of joy,

your milk and honey seem distant, unreal,

when we have bread and water in our hands. But …


Verse 3.

Show us the way that leads to your side,

over the mountains and sands of the soul.

Be for us manna, water from stone,

light which says we never walk alone. And …



Without peace, all other dreams vanish and are reduced to ashes.
~Jawaharial Nehru