A Protestant’s Life-Changing Experience at Ash Wednesday Mass

Though Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is often one of the most well-attended Masses of the year. Having an outward sign of our need for repentance is a powerful thing, and many people are drawn to this Mass with the distribution of ashes.

While Ash Wednesday is typically associated with the Catholic Church, anyone is welcome to receive ashes, Catholic or not. Patrick Madrid explained the reasons for that recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, and a listener called back to share her experience of receiving ashes even though she is not Catholic!

“I’ve been feeling this pull towards this Catholic Church in my neighborhood,” she explained. “I’m Protestant, I was brought up Protestant, haven’t been to church in many years, you know, faithfully or with any consistency. So I’ve been feeling this pull, and I listen to your show all the time. I pray and I just really love your show. It’s really helped me a lot.”

The listener, whose name is Sandy, shared that she heard Patrick explain that those who are not Catholic can still receive ashes, and so she decided to attend Ash Wednesday Mass at the parish in her neighborhood.

“I don’t know what the process is, so I walked in and, you know, people are blessing themselves,” she recounted. “And from Father Rocky’s Lenten Lessons I figured out how I went in there, and I blessed myself like I knew what I was doing.”

Though she didn’t know what to expect, Sandy found herself overwhelmed by emotion at the experience of attending that Mass on Ash Wednesday. She told Patrick, “I was in tears the whole time. Parents with their babies, folks with walkers and wheelchairs, and veterans, and just everybody from every walk of life. … It just made my life so great and I just want to thank you.”

Sandy shared that her experience at Mass reinforced for her that the Lord has been calling her to a deeper relationship with Him, and it has been an emotional experience as she works to answer the Lord’s call.

“I just wanted to add this too, and I don’t know why I’m getting emotional, but let me gather my thoughts here. I find that the more I write, the more I pray about what’s been going on in my life, the more I realize how much I need it – to go into my quiet spot and just pray. So when I don’t do it, I know that I need to do it, and I’ll be okay. I just wanted to share that.”

Patrick encouraged Sandy to continue on the road she is on, and assured her that she had a friend for the journey in him and the Relevant Radio® family.

“Just keep moving in this direction,” he told her. “Anything I can do to assist you, I’m happy to do it. So if I can answer your questions, whenever you call, please let me know. But I just want to encourage you. I do believe that God is drawing you closer to himself, and just think of what awaits you!”

“If you do become Catholic (I pray that you will, but in whatever the time frame may be), just think of how wonderful you felt when you received ashes on your forehead,” Patrick continued. “And then imagine how much more wonderful you’re going to feel when you receive our Lord in Holy Communion, truly present in what looks like bread and tastes like wine. … You’ll be receiving Our Lord into your very body and your soul when you receive Communion. So think about that. That’s waiting for you. That’s there for you, and all the other sacraments and everything else that Jesus wants you to have. It’s all there. And anything I can do to help you along the way, Sandy, I’m here to do that.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

The Patrick Madrid Show airs weekdays from 9:00 – noon Eastern/6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.