Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Suprise

When the young woman applying ashes said, "Repent and be transformed", I was surprised, yet with the feeling that I had been surprised before, probably every Ash Wednesday for years. The new Worship in the pews has for Ash Wednesday only the readings and Psalm; there would be no point in giving the words for the distribution, since the recipient is not expected to say anything. The Spanish missalette offers as alternatives "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that your are dust, and will return to dust." I expect the liturgies in all languages have equivalent latitude.

A friend who went to a Tridentine Mass said that of course there one has the old version, "Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris," which he remarked "nicely captures the sense of 'Threat Level: Orange'".. True enough, and it has the weight of long tradition as well. Yet "Repent and be transformed" seems to to capture well the senses of "Metanoeite",

the watchword of John the Baptist

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