The Diocese of Des Moines
Ash Wednesday Reflection: Lifting people out of the ash of despair and into hope
March 9, 2011
Written By: Trish Radke

Today, Ash Wednesday, we would like to share with you a touching reflection  written by a Director of Catholic Charities in Tennessee. Be sure to read all the way to the end where he talks about "taking up" your skills (rather than giving something up) to help bring the poor and vulnerable out of the ash and into hope.


What a wonderful message to all those who give hope through their work with Catholic Charities!



As a college student, we called it over the hump day. As a high school teacher, we called it review day. At Catholic Charities, we call it activity day for the day care, or half-price day at the thrift store or soup day in the kitchen. In many ways, it is just another day, the most ordinary day of the week, the weekend prior has already passed and the Sunday to come seems far off. Wednesday is sort of stuck in the mud. No wonder our church takes this day, the most ordinary day, and buries it in ashes. It is a day when we are reminded of our humanity, that we are "dust and to dust we shall return." It is a day we are covered with ash where we can't see even the possibility of the light of Easter Sunday.


This Ash Wednesday is a symbol of the day that many of our clients, residents, students, and guests experience as their everyday. The ash and weight of poverty, homelessness and depression surround them so that not even the possibility of a new life can be seen. In response to these ashes of despair, we at Catholic Charities are called to provide help in lifting others out of the ash and to provide hope for the possibility of new life.


On this Ash Wednesday let us, staff, volunteers, board members, in all capacities recall that this often referred to as the day that we "GIVE up" candy or soda, let us instead "TAKE up" our skills in order to dust off the hopelessness, our hands to wipe off the sadness, and our hearts to shed light through despair. This is the gift of being part of our Catholic Charities network of service: We get to lead people from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday!


Let us pray that the next 40 days can be days of hope and help leading us to a new experience of life and hope.


-Written by Fr. Ragan Schriver, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Eastern Tennessee Save to


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