Ash Wednesday, Anger and Absolution

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Do you like the allieration in my title? I was quite proud of myself, thank you very much.

My Lent started off horribly. Ash Wednesday was a disaster.

It started when I decided to take all three kids to the noon Mass. Fool.

We arrived a good 15 minutes late because I couldn't find a parking space. It would have been faster for us to walk. It was starting to snow and I had to carry Lucas's carseat and walk a good two blocks to the church. We made our arrival right in the middle of the Gospel reading. We slide, not so quietly, into a pew. 

Everything was going well enough until I looked over and see Abby playing with her very large and very loud airplane toy. I try to take it away from her and she screams, so I reluctantly allow her to continue to bang it on the wooden pew. Her banging is quieter than her screaming. 

I try to focus on the priest's homily while silently begging him to speed it up.  I glance again at Miss Abigail and she is now jumping on the kneeler. I try to reach around the car seat to get to her, but she crawls under the pew. She knocks down the kneeler in front of us, no doubt causing it to smash someone's foot. Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep all of our million jackets from falling onto the floor.

Hannah is behaving well enough and listening to the priest and reading her Mass books. A whopping whole minute later, I look over at Abby again and notice that she has now removed her shoes and socks. Oh, for the love.  I try to get her to put her shoes back on, she screams again and shouts, "no, mom, no! Let go, mom!" And not in her indoor voice. It's nearing the time to get in line for the ashes, so I attempt to wrestle Abby's shoes back on her, to no avail. Meanwhile, Lucas starts to cry, so I pick him up.

I'm holding Lucas and ushering Hannah into line to get our ashes. I manage to get one of Abby's shoes back on and decide to just leave her in the pew. I tell her I will be right back. She seems okay with this idea and stays put. However, when I'm halfway up the aisle in line, my one-shoed child comes running after me, "Wait Mom, wait! Mooom!"

At this point I just start laughing because really. We must be such a sight. The lady who is distributing ashes sees me at this point and signals to me that she'll come to me. Thank you, God. I don't have to walk the entire length of the church aisle with my motley crew. I get my ashes and return to the pew. 

Things are going well for a good 3 minutes when I look over and notice Hannah now has her shoes and socks off. This is when I lose it. Hannah should know better. Later she said she thought she "was at a home." Yeah right. Through my teeth, I yell at her to put her shoes back on. And I don't say it nicely.

Eventually, I calm myself down and get everyone's shoes and socks on, but at this point, I'm done. I lost my temper, it's time to go. I gather up our jackets and decide to leave. I'm not in the right frame of mind to continue with Mass and I console myself with the fact that Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation anyways.

We trudge through the snow back to the car and all the while I'm telling them how awful they were and how disappointed I am with them. Taking their shoes off during Mass, what were they thinking? Once we're in the car, I really let them have it. I get so, so mad at them. I yell, a lot. It is bad. And ugly.

After I cool down, I apologize to them profusely. I feel awful for speaking to them in such a way. Where did all that rage come from? They had misbehaved, yes, but they did not deserve the wrath I brought down upon them.

On a side note, I was reading Growing Up Duggar the other night (yes, call me crazy, but I love the Duggar family). Anyways, they devote an entire chapter to anger and the damage it can cause to the parent-child relationship. They liken a parent with anger issues to a volcano. Even if a volcano only erupts once a year, nobody wants to live near one. That analogy really resonated with me because I really don't want to be that parent, the one my children are afraid of, that could lose it at any moment. That's not okay.

As ugly as the scene was, in some ways it seems appropriate that on Ash Wednesday I was forced to confront my fallen nature. As much as people try to deny it or avoid talking about it, sin is real and evil exists. I am walking proof of that.

The next morning, I called the church rectory to schedule an appointment for Confession. Although, I had apologized to my children and to God, I needed to make an official and physical act of reparation for the wrong I had done. I think I'm going to devote an entire post to the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it is such a beautiful thing and one reason I love being Catholic. Some might say frequenting Confession is unnecessary or antiquated, although I'm not sure why. It's not like the human race has stopped sinning. 

I met with the priest the following morning and he heard my Confession and granted me absolution in persona Christi. There was no way I was going to make it through Lent without going to Confession, especially after letting loose on my kids. I needed to make a fresh start and begin again. 

Thank goodness we have a God who gives second chances.


  1. We had a very similar Ash Wed Mass! There is something so difficult about handling crazy kiddos during Mass - esp alone. Thank you for your honesty in this post!

    1. Glad to know I'm not the only one, ha! It's tough because the Ash Wednesday Mass is so long too!

  2. Oh my gosh this is great. I can picture it all. And of course it's snowing...and Ash Wednesday is usually packed...despite it not being an funny that people think they HAVE to get their ashes. Tied to the ritual.
    So awesome turning the whole thing around and getting to confession soon after-- way to start Lent and right the boat.
    I have been right there...and sometimes I realize I'm not as angry with my kid...more like angry that others might be angry...or all caught up in what other people are thinking of me.

    1. That's totally what is was for me, caring what other people were thinking. It was completely all about my pride. And you know what they say about pride going before a fall...

  3. {\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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    \f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0
    \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 Wow that sounds like an Ash Wednesday to laugh about later..good for you for trying to keep your cool, that would be so hard! Not gonna lie, I giggled a bit about Hannah saying 'I thought we were at home.' Haha. What a handful, go mama! And good job on going to confession. So thankful we have a God who forgives so easily :)

    1. You're right, now that I'm a little more removed from the situation, I can definitely laugh about it. Hannah is a stinker sometimes...haha


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