This year’s ash wednesday. We were at the St. Stephans Cathedral at the ash wednesday mass. The cathedral was really full, as seats were occupied and many people were standing. This was the main mass of the day and it was celebrated with our cardinal Schönborn. So many Christians were gathering and celebrating this solemn mass together. Surely this mass is a special one. Not because the church is decorated for the lenten season, there was a wonderful choir and the organ played historical pieces for example of Bach.
But it is one moment to stop our drive in which we are daily and think: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
So we left our seats and went to get our cross of the ashes. Surely because of the many people it took a while until we returned to our places.
But to our asthonishment our seats were occupied by others. This never occurred in the many years we have attended this mass. With a small gesture we pointed at our seats – but no reaction of the two who took your seats. But no reaction.
I think it is obvious for all people that when one leaves one’s seat be it for the cross of the ashes or for the communion this one would come back and be seated at the same place as before. So I can’t belief that this was a misunderstanding but it was sign of ignorance and egoism. We had no other choice than to go look for another place or to stand the rest of the mass.
When it was time to exchange a sign of peace I once thought back to the persons who took our seats. Could we exchange a sign of peace with them? Without comment? I could offer them peace, but with a “but” or a condition. Are the ones who offer their peace to others the stupid ones, when at the moment they turn away the others are misusing that peace?