Ashes R UsPosted: February 19, 2010
So on Ash Wednesday a couple members of the British media thought Vice President Joe Biden’s ashes were a “bruise.” I could rail against the ever-widening disconnect between the secular media and the liturgical calendar. I could rant about the number of news outlets that claim Roman Catholics are the only ones who mark Ash Wednesday. But I’m not.
Because the real controversy, in my mind, is the lousy job Biden’s priest did in administering the ashes. Any priest can make a smudge. It takes a true artiste like myself to make an acceptable cross on a parishioner’s forehead. And let’s be honest. Biden’s receding hairline presents the perfect canvas. There are no golden locks standing in the way; no bangs to contend with. So I’m not sure what the problem was.
For the record (and I mean that in a news reporting kind of way), the media mavens in question were Sky News correspondents Kay Burley and Greg Milam. Here’s the transcript: Burley asked Milam about the mark as they monitored Biden’s remarks: “What’s happened to his head? I’m sure that’s what everybody’s asking at home.” After a short pause, Milam replied, “Yes, I don’t know. It’s a simple answer. Maybe we’ll get a chance to find out a little later.” Burley then said, “It looks like he walked into a door, doesn’t it? I’m sure that’s one of the questions that the networks will be asking him.”
She’s obviously confused Biden with Gerald Ford. Turns out Burley, though British, is not an Anglican but a (clearly) lapsed Catholic. She quickly apologized saying, “I know I’m a very bad Catholic. I know I should know that today is Ash Wednesday and that’s why he’d got ash across his forehead. I’ve said three Hail Marys, everything is going to be fine.”
Finally, as a reminder that RC’s are not the only ones who mark the first day of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a seminary classmate of mine, the Rev. Lane Hensley, had his picture in the “Ash Thursday” edition of the Chicago Tribune distributing ashes at a train station. You can read about his experiences here.