...and ashes distributed at a crowded Mass in a London church. Years ago, I remember dear Fr Michael Napier of Brompton Oratory saying that the day that drew the largest crowds was Ash Wednesday. More than any Holyday of Obligation, more than any popular saint's day. I think it's because people like something tangible - ashes on the forehead, the reality of it, the thingness of it. Very incarnational.
And from there, with smudged forehead, to the train... and thence to the prison, where they'd had a distribution of ashes that morning, too...and talking to a couple of prisoners. One, in particular, is in a particularly distressing position, a young man from a devout family, caught up in ghastly events: please pray for him: no need to know his name or anything, just Carpenter will do (that isn't his name, and he isn't a carpenter).
Next day, to college for some work in the library...along the corridors there were still a couple of notices left from the previous day, from the Chaplaincy, reminding people about getting ashes. I hope they got good numbers too. In the evening, a gathering at St Paul's Bookshop next to Westminster Cathedral, where the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini, blessed the new Website project and, clicking on to a computer, set it in motion. It was all rather delightful, and again, incarnational - holy water sprinkled about, in the shop and on us, and on everything, Scriptures read, prayers said...and then we all enjoyed some light refreshments.
It's hopeless having an event like that in a bookshop - the shelves are so full of good things and it's all irresistible. I bought Scott Hahn's Evangelizing Catholics, and it's a good read.