Overheard on CNN.com: Ashes and everyday life
Parishioners wait in a long line to receive the ashes from a priest in Manila, Philippines.
February 22nd, 2012
05:28 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Ashes and everyday life

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Millions of Catholics mark the the beginning of the Lenten season by attending Ash Wednesday church services and receiving ashes on their foreheads. Some Catholics leave the mark on all day, while others choose to wipe it off. Religious scholars told CNN that either option is fine.

Some people were curious what GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would do - both are Catholic and are scheduled to participate in Wednesday's debate in Arizona.

The question generated an interesting discussion about displays of faith in politics and in daily life.

Will presidential candidates wear ashes at Wednesday debate?

Many commenters, including those who identified themselves as Catholics, said it didn't matter to them if the candidates wore the ashes, and some like Alan wondered why we were even bringing it up.

"Why is this even an issue! It will have nothing to do with the debate, election or anything else. CNN just likes to make an issue out of nothing. I am Catholic, I got my ashes, now do you really think I care which one of the candidates did or did not elect to get theirs, NO, NO, NO."

Phil in KC says he doesn't expect Gingrich or Santorum to have the ashes during the debate.

"They'll be so busy sweating, it will all be wiped off by the time the cameras roll. And that's if the make-up lady doesn't remove it first.
The bigger question is, why do I care?"

Some Catholic commenters said they were uncomfortable about making public displays of faith, but Danny, an Orthodox Jew, thought it was nice.

"It was so amazing to see so many people I passed this morning on my way to work in Midtown Manhattan, with ash on their forehead in observance of Ash Wed! As an Orthodox Jew who always wears a yarlmulka/Kippah on my head and thereby always proudly display my love and pride of Judaism and my being Jewish, it's nice to see some Christians stepping out and wearing their religion 'on their sleeve' (or their forehead)."

"As a Catholic, be it one who doesn't like Rome or Bishops, I went to Church today. The Gospel was about not wearing one's religion on one's sleeve. Ironically we all received the ashes afterwards and walk around all afternoon with our faith on our foreheads. Something doesn't make sense here."

"I know. I heard the same gospel. And it is kind of odd that we all walk out with the ashes after hearing that. But I keep mine on as more of a reminder to myself than anyone else. I hope I"m not doing it to "show off." And I don't care if anyone else rubs their ashes off. I don't particularly try to keep them on. They usually rub out by mid-afternoon."

I have ashes on my forehead – I will go around town today and I don't plan on taking it off (by the way guys, they don't last that long. If Mr. Santorum went in the morning, they'd be gone by afternoon at the latest). I don't wear them to "show off" that I'm a Christian, but I'm not ashamed of it either. I figure if anyone asks me about it, it gives me an opportunity to share what it means.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com • Uncategorized
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. BOMBO ©

    I'll just keep eating bacon cheeseburgers every day until Easter. The only ash on my forehead will be from barbeque flare-ups.

    February 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ♔Mmmmm♕

    mmh, so quiet....guess everyone's givin' up bloggin' for lent...

    February 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. saywhat

    Faith & governance should better be kept separated and that is one of the undeniable principles which created this country & nation.

    Separation of state & church, freedom from and of religion is what we are about and that shouldn't change. We have seen religion creeping into mainstream politics and that has to be rejected.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dazzle ©

    No ashes were seen on Gingrich or Santorum at tonights sideshow.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    @ bombo

    Freedom to eat bacon & cheeseburgers everyday. C'mon that is not what Liberty is all about. I besiege you not to do that.

    @ Mmmm
    lol! We bloggers are slowly dusting off the ashes. Perhaps now you may see some activity.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. saywhat


    lol !Thats good. God knows this sideshow doesn't need props.

    February 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @saywhat,I went to this thing in Mesa and a side show indeed.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. cm

    rock on fellow Catholics!

    February 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jadugara

      (grunt) FRRRRRRRRRT!

      February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      You, and perhaps ppeole that have lot's of free time on their hands. O'Reilly, Hannity and Beck should not be thought of as political figures. Anyone with half a brain knows that they are entertainers. Do you hear conservatives saying that Maddow and Olberman are political figures? Goodness, no. Fox does not have liberal bias. MSNBC is terribly tainted by the liberal media. CNN has a liberal slant but isn't nearly as bad as msNBC. I almost didn't even answer this question as it is surely going to be reported by someone on violation of a rant.

      March 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |