The phone calls have started at the rectory. "Are you giving out ashes tomorrow?" (I'd love, just once, to answer, "No, this year we're giving out corn flakes!"). The regular Mass-goers aren't calling, after all if you went to Church over the weekend you not only heard what times ashes would be imposed, but you took home a bulletin with the schedule for Ash Wednesday written down.
Now, before I get the "You're not being pastoral; maybe this'll be the year that they come back to being practicing Catholics" comments, I acknowledge that some of this afternoon's and tonight's callers might be people who are regular Mass-goers who are simply looking for a church nearby their place of work. But I also know (as do my brother Priests, whose rectory telephones are ringing tonight just as consistently) that the majority of them are the People of God who haven't been to Mass since Christmas Eve, since they choose not to obey the Church's precept of weekly Mass attendance.
Take a look around while you're at Mass tomorrow and remind yourself: assuming everyone in the pews are Catholics, then this is how crowded it should be every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation (which, I might add, Ash Wednesday is not). Snap a mental picture, or if you wish, actually do bring your digital camera into church with you, sit in the first or second row, and with about 2 minutes to go before Mass begins, stand up, turn around, and snap some photos of the crowd. Then, the First Sunday of lent, do the same thing. Compare photos.
Well, now that my rant is done, time for me to make my Lenten resolution to be all warm and fuzzy.