Holy Missteps

February 24, 2007

Author: Pamela Miller

Source: Star Tribune


While growing up in Vermont, Sabrina Rood attended a Congregational church and did not know many Catholics. So when she moved to Minnesota and began taking psychology classes at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, she learned some things that weren't in the textbook.

One winter's day she got to class early and was reading when the first two students walked in. "They had marks on their face," she said. "I didn't think anything much about it."

As more people arrived, Rood noted that they all had smudged foreheads.

"I was also taking social psych that semester, and we were always doing these little experiments, sometimes on each other," she said. "I decided everybody was in on a psych experiment except for me."

As the class ended and Rood got up to ask the professor what was going on, she heard students mention Ash Wednesday services. "It hit me ... these marks must be something to do with Ash Wednesday," she said. "I had never heard of the ashes-on-the-forehead tradition. I was so embarrassed!"