Now it's time for carnival, and before it really gets going and I start to get into the swing of things, I'd like to quickly prepare the school service for Ash Wednesday.
I had a brief moment of shock when I realized that this service includes the distribution of the ash cross - also in the morning with the children, not only during Mass. It's not a must, of course, but it is customary, because for these kids it's just THE Ash Wednesday service. (Of course, it is conceivable that one or the other child goes to a Mass somewhere in the afternoon with his or her parents - but the probability of that is probably close to zero).
So it's my job not only to explain to the children theoretically what the ashes are for, but also to give them this sign practically - if they want it. I think I'm going to burn the palm myself in the service so that the kids understand how it's all connected, so we'll see. Then, of course, the ashes will have to be blessed. All no big problem - one would think. But then I came across (of course once again on Facebook) wild discussions on the question of why lay people / women do things that should actually be done by a priest. It is not clear to me which is worse for the people involved: layman or woman, but then perhaps it no longer matters. In any case, in such discussions there is often a healthy half-knowledge of what is actually reserved for the priest - and which liturgical acts can certainly be delegated to lay people. The climax of one discussion was the statement that the blessing given by the pastoral worker was not valid and therefore not effective!
This kind of thing leaves me perplexed. Of course, I have consulted my pastor about the school service, that's clear. But with his commissioning it is no problem at all to conduct this service. I am happy that in this way significantly more children can receive this sacramental (not a sacrament!). And of course I will do my best so that the children grasp the meaning. This includes the dignity of the celebration.
Otherwise, I really wish the priest-centered fundamentalists would relax a bit and open their eyes to the fact that we ask the blessing from God and not from the person who says the prayer. This God who gives us so much good because he loves us above all else, he does not depend on people, their words and their actions. He will certainly also bless the children in this celebration - regardless of who asks him for it.