#AshesToGo At Start Of Lent As Clergy Offer Commuters 'Ash n' Dash'

Commuters and office workers are being offered 'ashes to go' in a series of innovative schemes by clergy marking the start of Lent.

'Ash n' Dash' – as it is dubbed – offers a moment of calm across the UK from outside Croydon tram station to local libraries and parish schools.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a period of reflection and abstinence in the build up to EasterChurch of England

Shoppers and city workers will have the chance to receive prayer and the typical smudge on the forehead in Derby, Guildford and Cambridge city centres, according to a Church of England spokesman.

Traditionally a mass or short service is held with parishioners marked with the sign of the cross. 

Teams of clergy will be handing out the 'oily black gloop' with one vicar describing the activity as 'Ashing on the streets'.

Rev Tiffany-Alice Ewins, from Battersea, was licensed as a priest just two days ago. She said: 'The opportunity to take to the streets in a public act of witness and worship on Ash Wednesday seems too good a gift to pass up!'

She added: 'The idea is to offer a moment of connection with the reality that we are all mortal – just dust. And a moment to meditate on the truth that Jesus' resurrection transforms that dust into invaluable people of infinite hope. Just a moment in the day to encounter God.

'So with the ash of burnt palm crosses, outside our local library on a Wednesday afternoon some of us will be showing and telling that death is real, but resurrection is realer still.'

Clergy and commuters shared their experience on Twitter under #AshesToGo:

Others saw the funny side in the variety of smudges on foreheads on Wednesday morning:

In Ireland the Ash Wednesday offerings are even more elaborate, with one church in Galway offering a drive-through ashes service.

Commuters can drive in the gate of St Patrick's Church, in Glenmady, receive ashes from their car and drive out the other side.

'We looked at the situation on the ground. People and families are on the move all the time,' parish priest Father Paddy Mooney told the Irish Catholic.

'It's about meeting people where they are.'

The same church will also offer drive-through prayers during Lent with people submitting requests into a box left in the church grounds without having to leave their car.

'We're just putting it in front of people to help them think of Lent, as a reminder of it,' the priest added.