Tell Me I’m Not Good Enough: An Ash Wednesday Request | David Paul Deavel | Catholic World Report
Those who come to be marked by ashes are looking for what might be called the “bad news of the Gospel.”
The answer was emphatically not what I was expecting. “Janet” (not her real name), raised Catholic and Lutheran in spots and now “nothing” (her words), had been saying how she missed ritual and the touch of God in her life. She wanted these for her husband and children, too. I was encouraging her to come back to Catholic faith when she declared that the only group she felt comfortable belonging to was the local organic foods co-op. I asked her why, expecting something about the co-op’s “openness” and “acceptance.”
But she said it very plainly: “Because they know I’m not good enough.”
Janet is certainly not like “Mrs. Begorrah,” the character in Bernard Basset’s novel Priest in the Presbytery, “who was easiest to please, for she asked no more of the [preacher] than plenty of hell-fire. . .”. Janet does not like threats. But she does like truth. And the truth is that she feels a discontent with herself that is not simply the result of low self-esteem or a slightly-off brain chemistry or unrealistic expectations or a dysfunctional family background. The co-op, while accepting her, says without qualm that her lifestyle is unhealthy and she needs to change to be healthy and right with Nature. But the discontent is still there.
Janet might be religiously “nothing” now but she is disturbed. And in her disturbance is a lesson for the preacher on Ash Wednesday.