Ash Wednesday…

As a religious believer, but also as one who has never participated in Ash Wednesday by receiving an ash cross on my forehead, I must say it looks creepy and cultish to see such large numbers of people with ashes on their foreheads. I was out shopping this evening and was surrounded by many a man woman and child with black ashes smudged into the shape of a cross on their forehead and for the first time it looked weird to me.

Mind you, I say this as someone who believes what many might consider strange and incredible.


  1. Interesting, I’ve never seen that before.

    As a point of comparison (without malice), I was a Christian for decades. Only recently did it occur to me that I’d been participating in a ritual of symbolic cannibalism and blood drinking – looking back, it seems creepy and cultish to me. I suppose “normal” is just whatever everyone else around you is doing.

  2. I didn’t see a single person with ashes today. Considering that I live surrouned by churches, that’s rather strange, but the only time I remember ever seeing people with ashes was when I was a kid and my parents took us to church for it ourselves.

    There are many cultures and traditions that include public, symbolic displays that have nothing to do with cutlish behaviour. I’m curious as to why it would suddenly seem so to you this year.

  3. Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians all do it. I’m a Lutheran but I didn’t make it to church today.

    People often use it against Catholics, totally ignorant of the fact that many protestant denominations do it as well. It’s totally biblica (e.g. 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3). It’s the anointing of the head to express penance, humility, and to reaffirm one’s belief in Jesus Christ.

    Jesus didn’t condemn nor endorse the practice, but for some people it is their way of reaffirming their faith in Christ.

    Is it cultish? You bet. The cult of Jesus Christ.

  4. More than the ashes, it’s about what is said (or what used to be said before churches got politically correct) when the cross is made with ashes on the forehead:

    “Remember man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”

    • Lest anyone think I’m deriding a public pronouncement of faith, I’m not. I’ve seen people do it my whole life and thought nothing of it. It was just that for some reason it caught me as strange and cultish when I saw it this year. I’m not making any judgements on it.

  5. It started with Romanism as part of a cultic ritual, and too many mainline protestant denominations just carried it over after the Reformation, like they did so many other Romanist ideas.

    Monkeytree, only the Romanists think the wine/grape juice is really blood, and yes it becomes cannibalism in that regard, let alone idolatry. Early Christians accepted it as what Christ meant it to be – symbolism. Which is why only Catholics still do it (including Orthodox)

  6. Look, all this talk about Catholics is something I could never understand. I’m not happy with the Catholic Church, which is one reason we left and are now Lutheran. But, seriously, if you had to choose to live in a country with a majority of Catholics or a majority of Islam, you and I both know which one you’d choose – and you wouldn’t even think about it!

    We’re all on the same team.

  7. Terrance,
    You don’t have to choose either. You can be a Christian without joining the Catholics. Choosing to be Catholic is choosing to join with paganism and idolatry.

  8. Wow. Did you get bitten by a Catholic as a child?

    I’m an ex-Catholic, so obviously I have issues with them, but the level of false beliefs about and prejudice against Catholics I’m discovering is really quite disturbing. It’s probably the biggest reason I haven’t been able to find a home in another church. Too much hatred and ignorance about the one I left.

    • Kunoichi,
      I have studied Romanism for almost 30 years. It isn’t “prejudiced” to speak the truth about the false belief system of Roman Catholicism. Your comment is almost identical to what I get from Mormons when I discuss their false belief system.

      And it isn’t “hatred” to expose false teachings. Well, I do hate false teachings, just as God hates idols. I hate false teachings because they either keep people from salvation or else add heavy legalistic burdens of dogma to those who are saved. While people do come to saving faith in the RCC, it is in spite of the RCC and not because of it. Perhaps you need to read the many testimonies of Christians who were saved AFTER leaving RCC, or who left the RCC BECAUSE they got saved.

      Romanism does not represent true Christianity. It is rife with heresy.

  9. That you use the term “Romanism” tells me a lot about those 30 yrs of “study” and your personal biases. And no, I don’t consider it hatred to expose false teachings, but many who attack Catholics do so with hatred (as well as arrogance, superiority, ignorance, pride, averice, etc.) and that’s what I am referring to.

    As for talking to people who leave the RCC (like myself), I have done so – but I also know many people who converted *to* Catholicism, either from atheism or other Christian faiths, so that fact that people move away from Catholicism is not any excuse to say they are heretical pagans. In truth, it has been those who have converted *to* Catholicism that have been the most open minded and loving towards those of other Christian denominations. If my issues with Catholicism were not doctrinal, their examples would enough to convert me back.

    • Kunoichi,

      I call it Romanism because it isn’t Christian. Also, if you say “Catholic,” that gets to be ambiguous, because originally the Christian faith was called the Catholic faith – meaning universal faith. Roman Catholicism left the true catholic faith behind. Then there is Eastern Orthodoxy – also known as Orthodox Catholic. So Romanism is more precise to identify the Roman Catholic organization.

      Yes, I have a personal bias against ALL false teaching: Romanism, Mormonism, JW, Christians Science, Unity, etc. And real Christians should all be biased against false teachings. Christ certainly was, so was Paul and Peter and Jude and John.

      I don’t “attack” Catholics as people, – I only attack the teachings as I attack Mormon teachings; exposing them for their fraudulent and unbiblical nature.

      Mormons are also very “loving,” but being loving doesn’t define the faith. The ONLY issues I have with Roman Catholicism are doctrinal: the papacy, the magisterium, indulgences, purgatory, the Mass, Mariolatry, infallibility, perpetual virginity of Mary, assumption of Mary, sinlessness of Mary, icons, veneration of saints, baptism regeneration, confessionals, the priesthood — all of which are totally unbiblical.

  10. First, use of the upper case C denotes a proper name or title, making is a clear referance to the RCC, which the term catholic (lower case c) is typically no longer used in referance to anything other than the Catholic church, so any ambiguity is artificial.

    Second, I too detest false teaching and lies. Which is why, as someone who grew up Catholic as both a faith and a culture, I speak out when people make blatantly false accusations such as saying that Catholics worship idols, etc. If you’ve really studied Catholicism for 30 years, you should know full well that things like perpetual virginity are not agreed upon, etc. You also seem to completely reject the place tradition and culture play in worship, which is where other points you bring up (and many things I grew up with and assumed were Catholic, when they were, in reality, Polish Catholic traditions) are misleading.

    • Kunoichi,

      Big C Catholic describes both Roman and Orthodox. That was my point. Romanist immediately identifies which version one is discussing. Or would you prefer the “Popish” church?

      There is nothing I’ve stated above, or anywhere on my blog, which misrepresents the Romanist Church. The Romanist church worships the wafer of the Mass, and that is idolatry. The worship of Mary is sanitized by calling it “veneration,” but it is nothing less than full-blown worship in practice.

      The perpetual virginity of Mary is Romanist doctrine. Whether all individual Romanists accept it is irrelevant to the doctrine of the Church.

      Demonstrate that anything I mentioned above is just cultural tradition and not Romanist doctrine.

      And it is not “IF” I’ve studied the RCC for 30 years – it is a FACT

  11. “Big C Catholic describes both Roman and Orthodox. ” Except Orthodox churches call themselves Orthodox churches. Only the Catholic church calls itself Catholic. “Popish” doesn’t work, since the Copts also have a pope. As for Romanist, the only place I’ve ever heard that term is from you, here, and it took me a while to figure out what you were talking about.

    You make all sorts of claims that are nothing more than your own interpretations of what Catholicism stands for and Catholics do; a nebulous, feelings-based interpretation of your questionable studies. (You do make me wonder about the source of your studies.) You especially destroy your own case when you make comments like “The worship of Mary is sanitized by calling it “veneration,” but it is nothing less than full-blown worship in practice.” Having been raised Polish Catholic (the entire country was dedicated to Mary, so there’s your cultural example), I can say without equivocation that no one I know actually worships Mary, yet you, in your hubris, insist that that’s what Catholics actually do? Then you have the gaul to demand that I somehow prove you wrong? What arrogance! You are an example of Christians moving the goal posts complained about above, every bit as condescending and fast and loose with the truth as the New Atheists I’ve debated over the years; the ones who claim to know the Bible better than Christians do, and that’s why they’re atheists.

    • Kunoichi,

      I’m not going to play your game about the word “Catholic.” Here’s the bottom line – “Catholic” or “catholic” still means the same thing – universal. The universal church. Romanism is NOT the universal church – it is a corruption of the universal church.

      The source of my studies include the catechism of the Roman Catholic church, Ludwig Ott’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma,” The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, numerous Papal Encyclicals, Church history, etc, etc, etc,

      My “interpretations” are nothing less than citations from Romanist teachings.

      Mary is indeed worshiped; she has been made into a virtual goddess. Romanists pray to her (praying to anyone other than God is not found in Scripture – and talking to dead people is forbidden in Scripture), they build huge idols of her, they see visions from satan and call them Mary, etc. I fully demonstrate that the Mary of Romanism is NOT the Mary of the Bible:

      I have attended numerous Romanist weddings (I am a musician and play for weddings) and every bride and groom has to take the obligatory walk to the idol of Mary and kneel in front of it – THAT is worship.

      I never move the goal posts – the goal posts are the Word of God. Romanism is an apostate and heretical organization.

      And like other cultists, the first thing you do is holler “arrogance”! Okay, let’s say I am arrogant, that I’m a mean old meaning, that I am a bigot and I beat my wife and kick my cat. What I have said about Romanism is still 100% true regardless of what sort of a person you may think that I am. Rather than address my arguments, you resort to ad hominem attacks on my character.

  12. Catholics believe that Jesus is the Christ, so they are Christians. Another considerations are true scotsmans fallacies.
    Catholics are not polytheists nor nature worshipers, so they are not pagans.
    Catholics don’t worship other gods symbols nor God’s symbols by themselves, so they are not idolaters.

    • Isu,

      Mormons also claim to believe that Jesus is the Christ. That doesn’t make them Christians. I have also stated that there are Romanists who are Christians in SPITE of the Romanist teachings. But if you study the subject you will find there are more “Roman Catholics” in the RCC than there are Christians. In many nations, especially in South America, the Romanist beliefs are syncretized with various pagan beliefs, giving a real heretical mixture of beliefs.

      My complaint is not with individual Catholics who may or may not be Christian (only God knows their heart), rather it is with the RCC organization with its apostate and heretical teachings.

      Roman Catholics do indeed worship objects – the wafer of the Eucharist is worshiped as if it is Christ himself. THAT is idolatry. Mariolatry is idolatry.

  13. Glenn,

    If someone believes that Jesus is the Christ, then this one is Christ-ian. Another doctrines can be discussed but all of them are Christian if they share that point. On the other hand syncretized beliefs are not the same that original one, so they are irrelevant for assertions made about the proper characteristics of the original one.

    I live in a country which most important religion is Catholicism. I have attended many Catholic weddings and there is no walking to the idol of Mary nor kneeling in front of it.

    Mariolatry is not Catholic, since in Catholicism worship is only given to God.

    “the wafer of the Eucharist is worshiped as if it is Christ himself.”

    That is because it is Christ’s body and therefore Christ himself. Corinthians 11:23-26.
    Your assertion that you have studied Romanism for about thirty years is hardly credible when you don’t even know its basis and when you confuse veneration and intercession (a doctrine proper of roman culture) with worship.

    • “I’m not going to play your game about the word “Catholic.” Here’s the bottom line – “Catholic” or “catholic” still means the same thing – universal.”

      What game? Apparently, you can’t tell the difference between a word and a name.

      “…every bride and groom has to take the obligatory walk to the idol of Mary and kneel in front of it …” etc.

      This is one area where I find myself agreeing with Isu! I’m beginning to think you live in some weird alternate universe. I have NEVER seen what you describe here. If this is supposed to be part of Catholic doctrine, why is this the first time I’ve even heard of such a thing? Heck, even with the belief in transubstantiation (which is one of the doctrinal points I disagree with), I have NEVER encountered a Catholic who worships the wafer.

      Honestly, Glenn, the more you claim to have so thoroughly studied Catholicism for all these years, the less I believe anything you say, because your claims are so blatantly wrong. I do find it funny that you’ve called me a cultist. That’s hilarious.

      For someone who claims to hate falsehood so much, you promulgate it quite a bit. If you’re going to disagree with Catholicism, so be it, but disagree with what they are, not what you want them to be.

      • I’m not going to poke in to this except to say that I was married in an RC church. My wife was Catholic at the time and I was non religious and didn’t care. We did not have to kneel or bow before any statues or statuettes. We did kneel at the alter, but not before anything, just as a matter of ceremony. Nothing like this was even mentioned by the priest in our pre nuptial meetings either.

        My wife’s cousin was also married in a different RC church in the same area. Both she and her husband are Catholic and did not kneel before any statues.

        It might be a regional thing if glenn has seen it done.

      • Kunoichi,

        “Catholic” as a name was stolen by Rome in their claim to the the only true church. The word still means “universal” whether they want it in their name or not. I prefer to use Romanist as the more definitive word for them.

        I have played for weddings throughout the Chicago, IL metropolitan area, and throughout Eastern Iowa. So you are telling me that this visit with the statue of “Mary” is unusual?!?!?! Right

        Whether YOU have encountered a Catholic who has worshiped the wafer is irrelevant. That is Catholic doctrine. Read the link I just posted for Isu where I cite the Catholic doctrine.

        All you do is assert that I am wrong, but you have given no proof. My links show the actual citations from Romanist teachings. There is nothing false about what I’ve stated about Rome. But, then again, Mormons also claim what I say is false no matter how much evidence I bring before them. Which is why I consider the RCC to be cultic – their followers totally ignore facts and blindly follow the pope.

    • Isu,
      You are arguing what a Christian is – I have not argued against that, so what is your problem?

      Just because Romanism is the most important religion in your country, that doesn’t make it a correct religion.

      Explain all the statues which are supposed to be Mary if that isn’t Mariolatry. To begin with, no one knows what Mary looked like, so any image would be a false representation. Did you look at my link about the Roman Catholic Mary? All of Rome’s doctrines about Mary are indeed Mariolatry. Deny it all you want, but the truth is there.

      And no, the wafer is NOT Jesus. The bread at the Last Supper was used as a symbol. So was Christ eating himself? The Eucharist is unbiblical and idolatrous.
      That will explain everything.

      I don’t confuse veneration with intercession. Mary is venerated. But Romanists also pray to her for “intercession.” SHE CAN’T HEAR everyone’s prayers without being omniscient and omnipresent – attributes of God. Nowhere are we told to pray to the dead to intercede. Christ is our mediator and it is through him we seek intercession. Mary has no special status in heaven, does not have Jesus’ ear, and can’t do a thing for you.

  14. Glenn,

    I know that you are not arguing about what a christian is, but preaching that catholics are not christians based on your made on purpose redefinition of what a christian is.

    My point in remarking that Catholicism is the most important religion in my country is to show you that I’m more familiar with it and that I have more experience. I doubt that you have attended as many mass as I have.

    Having statues is not idolatry if they aren’t worshipped. Not being like the original don’t make a representation be false. Are you telling that crosses are false since they aren’t like the original one?
    I don’t see any idolatry in “Immaculate Conception” doctrine, for example. Well, witch hunters see witches all around.

    Jesus said “This is my body”, being real or symbolic is irrelevant to the issue since it is God what is being worshipped.

    I don’t want to discuss about the truthfullness of the doctrines. I’m saying that they don’t mean idolatry.

    • Isu,
      I continue to say that individual Catholics may be Christian – it is the RCC as an organization which is NOT a Christian church, rather it is an apostate departure from true Christianity.

      I may not have attended as many masses as you, but I’m sure I’ve attended a few hundred, including many funeral masses. But one doesn’t have to attend a mass to know what Rome teaches in regards to it – all you have to do is read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

      Symbols such as a cross or a fish are just that – symbols to remind one of something. Statues are supposed representing specific people, but if you have no idea what those people looked like then it is a false representation of that person. Any picture, or statue, etc of “Jesus” is nothing more than a representation of the artists idea of Jesus, which is not what Jesus looked like, and so it is a false representation of Christ. I’m so tired of hearing and reading of how looking at these remind the person of the real person. Tell that to God – “This false image I made of Jesus reminds me of Jesus when I look at it” – nothing less than spiritual adultery. I can just see me telling my wife that a photo of a nude woman in my wallet helps to remind me of her – same principle.

      Mary could not have been born sinless, since Scripture tells us everyone has sinned, and that every one is a sinner. There is nothing in the Bible which says Mary was born sinless – that dogma came along with the Roman Church. It is part of the whole identity of a different Mary that Rome worships. Did you even look at my article about the Romanist Mary? Praying to Mary is worshiping her – she is treated as if she is God. That is idolatry.

      Jesus did not say to worship the bread. The bread was merely a symbol of his body, as the wine symbolized his blood. Worshipping such symbols is idolatry. Neither the bread nor the wine is Jesus, and to worship something other than God is idolatry.

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