Paglinauan took but a few moments to make an ashen sign of the cross on her forehead and say "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

A few miles to the north, the Rev. Ken Saunders, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson, took a bit more time, reading a one-paragraph prayer referring to penitence, confession and redemption through Christ.

He took the early shift, staking out a spot next to a driveway alongside the church on Allegheny Avenue shortly after 7 a.m. He posted an Ashes to Go sign and waited.

He didn't have to wait long for Kimberly Piccirilli, who lives close to the church and stopped off before heading to work. Piccirilli, who is Catholic, said she'd heard about Ashes to Go online.

"It makes everything more convenient for people who want to take part in Ash Wednesday and can't get to a church," she said. "It's a good idea, and I hope it continues."

One woman stayed behind the wheel of her black Chevy Malibu, letting Saunders reach through the window with his blackened right thumb.

Saunders, who is doing "Ashes to Go" for a second year, said he was initially skeptical, wondering if taking the ritual out of the context of a church service would "cheapen the experience."

"I really had to think about it," he said. The more he thought about it, the more he liked it. "I had a profound feeling this is what the church should be doing."

 

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

  • Text NEWS to 70701 to get Baltimore Sun local news text alerts