The popular prayer app Hallow has a way to show your faith on social media.
The ritual application of ashes on Ash Wednesday is rooted in ancient Jewish tradition and serves two main purposes: to remind us of our physical death (and therefore our need for God) and to serve as a form of public penance.
Public penance is common throughout the Bible and was part of the early Church’s development of the sacrament of Confession
The ashes received at mass are sacramentals blessed by a priest. They are uniquely physical.
As a physical sign, they give us the opportunity to share our faith. Take care though! Make sure that you don’t fall into the sin of the Pharisees who loved public displays of faith but didn’t have their hearts in it!
This year, many Catholics won’t have the opportunity to attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, and those who can will still probably not have the chance to show any sign of “public penance.” This is because the Vatican has asked that ashes be sprinkled on the heads of the faithful — as is already the tradition in many countries — rather than traced on the forehead. In this way, the priest or minister can avoid physical contact with the faithful.
Some dioceses have found creative ways to still enable the “public penance” element, with one diocese planning to administer the ashes on foreheads with cotton swabs, and another planning to send the ashes home so that they can be administered in the family.
Whether or not you will have ashes for all to see is not the point, of course. The invitation of Lent is to repent and turn to God, and the ashes are just a symbol of our need to do this.
Still, the pandemic restrictions did get creative wheels turning over at Hallow, the popular prayer app. They’ve announced:
Hallow is proud to announce the launch of a digital “AshTag” effect on both Facebook and Instagram.
Ashes symbolize grief and in the case of Lent, are a reminder that we have sinned, separating ourselves from God.
Rather than an exercise in vanity, publicly wearing ashes allows Catholics around the world to embrace humility in penance as part of a community of faith.
What better place to embrace solidarity with the global Church than on social media.
By pairing digital ashes with the hashtag “#ashtag2021” we are literally connected together in a discoverable and shareable way.
To get your “AshTag” go here, and click on the button for either Facebook or Instagram.