My favorite Ash Wednesday blessing EVER. Really.

There’s a bumper sticker that always makes me laugh. It says, “Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you’re a jerk.”

(I’m toning down the last word because, well, family-type blog. But beware there will be….a rude word ahead.) {ominous fanfare}

Whenever I’ve seen that bumper sticker, I’ve laughed with relief: someone — finally! — understands me. I’m trying, and God loves me, but inside me I figure I’m a redacted-to-jerk and everyone knows it. But sugar-coats it. We go to church and the priest flinches, then says, “Jesus loves you” and leaves it at that.

Except once. My favorite Ash Wednesday Mass ever.


Because a priest told the truth.

Catholic high school. Mandatory Mass. Junior year. We’d all been split up by year to attend different Masses, and we got Father Prior (who was great, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. May he rest in peace, but I hope he remembered this afterward and got a giggle out of it too.)

We went through the readings and he gave a homily, and then it was time to do the ashes, and he began pronouncing the blessing over the ashes.

And he said, “Lord, bless these asses.”

Slip of the tongue, sure, but… High school juniors. Yeah, um. Cue everyone struggling to keep composure and even Father Prior battling laughter so much he turned beet red. And with tears in my eyes, I stood there, shoulders shaking, and you know what? He was right. Looking back on high school, we were teens — we were jerks because teens so often are. We had the draaaaaaama and the posturing and the attitudes and all that normal garbage that goes along with life in high school. Lord, bless these burnt ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms. But more than that, Lord, bless these asses, because all of us humans are capable of acting like an ass at some point or another, and we need your blessing anyhow. In fact, because of that, we especially need your blessing.

Jesus loves us all. And everyone else knows…well, you know.


  1. Scott

    Thank you so much for that memory. Though if I remember right, his face being beet red (and mispronunciation of words) wasn’t generally from embarrassment. 🙂

    I will always remember that he was always genuine. He genuinely cared about all the students and always knew how to help. One time, when I decided to skip a basketball game to go to a HS play with a mutual friend, he actually showed up there to teach me something about responsibility. And months later when we played the same team and I played well, he came up to me and said, “See how much difference you can make?”

    That, to me, is genuine.

  2. Mary Randy

    Hilarious! Come to think about it, that fits me as a teenager too…

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