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The Deacon's Bench

Now I’ve seen everything.

I have a brief break between services on this Ash Wednesday, so I wanted to share this incredible-but-true moment from this afternoon.

It was our noon mass. It was, predictably, mobbed. Standing room only. During the distribution of ashes, a father carrying his baby came forward to receive ashes from me. “Remember,” I said, as I scratched a grainy cross on his brow with my thumb, “You are dust and to dust you will return.” Then he smiled and nodded toward the baby, indicating he wanted the kid to get them, too. Okay. I made a tiny ashen sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead, repeating the familiar phrase. And in an instant, the father grinned, and turned toward someone in the pews — the baby’s mother? — who was holding a camera. He smiled and posed with the baby as the camera flashed.

I can see the family album now: “Baby’s First Ashes.”

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