Why Now?

My offices here in Washington, D.C. happen to be across the street from St. Matthew’s Cathedral. I don’t have a view—because I don’t have a window—but a colleague of mine who does just poked her head into my office and said, “I’ve never seen so many people going to Mass.”

So I went to take a look for myself. Here’s the view from a few minutes ago:

Now, the Cathedral is always crowded on Ash Wednesday, especially at the 12:10 Mass, which Cardinal Wuerl usually celebrates. (If you look closely you can see His Eminence in the center doorway, greeting the faithful as they exit.) But my colleague is right; I’ve never seen this many people waiting in line for Mass at the Cathedral.

Any one else noticing an extra excitement in the air this Ash Wednesday?

One of the reasons we make sacrifices during Lent is to shake ourselves out of our routine, to keep ourselves from taking for granted what must never be taken for granted. If nothing else, the Holy Father’s announcement on Monday seems to have gotten our attention just at the right time, liturgically speaking. Hopefully, especially in this Year of Faith, we’ll all make the most of it.

May we all have a fruitful Lent!

Stephen P. White is a fellow in the Catholic Studies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC and coordinator of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society. The views expressed here are his own.


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  • abadilla

    I guess we don’t appreaciate what we have until we lose it, and losing this Holy Father has upset many of us and that’s why many are flocking to church to pray for him, for the Church, and for the next conclave.

  • mortimer007

    Yes, the church I went to for 11am mass in downtown Miami was packed too! Tremendous energy.



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