Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scout Sunday
(and Monday)
Annual Scout Sunday service project: burning the old palms and preparing the ashes for Ash Wednesday.
Each year we have the honor of leading a burning of palms on or around Scout Sunday, to prepare the ashes for Ash Wednesday.  After all, who better to call upon for (safe) burning of things than Scouts? 
This gets to be a very smokey project, and next year I will remember not to wear mascara!

This year we had a big crowd of helpful spectator-participants (including many adults), which was very fortunate considering the basket full of palms was about almost as big as a bag of Costco groceries. 
Big supply of old palms to be burned his year.

We cut the palms down to burnable segments and kept a smokey fire stoked for about 30 minutes.
Carefully collecting the burned material, we let it cool and brought it home for processing. 

The first year we did this project, we didn't realize the burned palms would need to be crushed down into a finer ash.  As crosses were traced on foreheads that Ash Wednesday, there were a few surprises when the chunks of burned palms made scratches on foreheads, and chunks fell upon dress shirts.  No, the marking with ashes is not supposed to be painful or stain clothing!

Now we know, the processing of the burned palms is essential before we distribute the ashes.
Several local faith communities contact our Church each year requesting ashes, and we pack them up so they're ready to be delivered.
Sieve for the charred palm debris, to make a finer ash consistency.
Cool reflection... how many of us can you see?

Packaged ashes for use at our Ash Wednesday Masses; campus Mass, and at other local faith communities' Ash Wednesday services.

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