1) I've been trying to cut down on the Internet for Lent. Turns out, if I keep myself strictly to what I consider a not-indecent amount of time to spend on the computer in one day... it leaves me absolutely no time to blog. :P
2) First meal of the first day of Lent. I unwrapped my Promax bar (the nutty butter crunch flavor is really tasty) and sat on a couch in our lab's coffee room, in a meditative mood. As planned, I had no book or Internet to amuse me; I could spend my entire (small) breakfast thinking of God. So I ate slowly, and as I finished off the last bites, I realized... that I'd spent the entire time studying the nutrition facts on the wrapper. It's such a force of habit to read while eating that I can't remember not to do it even when I'm remembering not to do it!
3) On Ash Wednesday I went to one regular Mass and one in the Extraordinary Form. Both Masses were good. In the NO Mass we got ashed at the end; in the traditional Latin rite the priest crossed all the foreheads with ashes right at the beginning before the Mass even started. I liked this much better, because it kept the main focus not on receiving ashes but on receiving the Eucharist.
Speaking of that...
4) My parish is right in the middle of a Hispanic neighborhood, and Ash Wednesday is the big day for Spanish-speaking Catholics, bigger than Christmas or Easter. So the schedule is as follows: Masses at 6 am, 8 am, 12 noon, and 8 pm. From 3 pm to 8 pm there are half-hour services, with a short sermon and the distribution of ashes, every half hour. For each of these services, they let folks in till the church is full (and it's a large church), then lock the doors, have the service, and let everyone out by the back doors while the new shift crowds in the front. So a whole heck of a lot of people come to church that day. Now why do so many people want to get ashes if they don't bother to obey any of the precepts of the Church, like, say, the one about coming to Mass every Sunday? I don't know, but I was talking with an LC priest tonight who assured me that some believe if they don't get their ashes, and they die before the next Ash Wednesday, they'll go to Hell. Strange that someone can get that belief fixed firmly in his head but not have room for some things the Church actually teaches... A new acquaintance said she saw a man at the 7-11 with the ash cross on his forehead and a hot dog in his hand. (Catholics aren't required to go to Mass or get ashes on Ash Wednesday, but they are required to fast and abstain from meat on that day.) Ah well. One cool thing about cultural Catholicism is that even someone who's otherwise far from the Church will still come one day a year. Gives our zealous priests a chance to preach it to them: "The ashes will not save you!"