Ash Wednesday, Dress Code for Mass, and Downplaying Mortal Sins During Confession

Fr. Josh answers questions about wearing ashes in public on Ash Wednesday, what to wear at daily Mass vs. Sunday Mass, and how detailed we need to be about mortal sins during confession.

If you have a question, comment, or response for Fr. Josh, email us at You may hear your question or comment in an upcoming podcast episode!

Snippet from the Show

Imagine the people who might ask you questions about your ashes. It’s a great opportunity to be a witness and to evangelize. It’s also a great opportunity for you to remember that you are dust, that you are called to daily repentance, and that you are called to be an intercessor for the world.


Glory Story (1:23)

Jeff and Emily Cavins spoke at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. They spoke about Jeff’s new book, specifically about becoming activated disciples in their daily lives.

Fr. Josh also shares a story about Jeff’s tattoo ministry. Check out Jeff’s podcast on Evangelizing Through Tattoos.

Listener Feedback (4:57)
Ash Wednesday (15:09)

Hello Father Josh, I have a question regarding ash Wednesday (hopefully, you get to respond to this before ash Wednesday). I am currently a sophomore in college; and I have some concerns about this coming ash Wednesday. if I decide to attend mass in the morning, am I supposed to leave the ash on my forehead throughout the day? I am a bit concerned that leaving it on my forehead would cause unnecessary attention and stares during my classes. However, I feel like cleaning it off is almost like hiding my Catholic faith. I doubt there is a concrete yes or no answer, but I would just like some advice.


Downplaying Mortal Sins During Confession (20:17)

Hi Father Josh, I want to start by saying what a blessing and joy your podcast has been!!!! I am sorry that this is kind of lengthy but here it goes!!! I have recently committed a mortal sin that could have put someone’s life in grave danger for the sake of my pride and for fear of getting on trouble. I went to Confession and felt that I had a good, fruitful Confession and left feeling great! However, the day after and the days following, I kept bringing the sin back up in my mind–I think trying to downplay it in my head because I did not want to carry the baggage of knowing I had ever done something of this magnitude for the rest of my life.

Now, I am scared that I downplayed the seriousness of the sin to the priest by trying to make the situation “look better” in Confession when I detailed the story to him (I told the story before the actual Sacrament, and in the Sacrament itself simply stated “I put someone’s life in grave danger because of my fear of looking like an idiot.”) Now I have 2 questions:

1.) How can I tell if this new fear that I downplayed the sin is from God or from the devil?
2.) I am having a really, really, really hard time forgiving myself.  I am also having a hard time accepting confidence in God’s mercy. What are practical ways for moving on from the sin, helping me understand the scopes of God’s mercy, and forgiving myself???!!!

P.S. Sorry for my excessive use of exclamation marks (*also, feel free to sing Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, Not Sorry” at this point*)

In Distress

Dress Code for Mass (27:50)

Dear Fr. Josh, Thank you for all the work that you do for the Lord and your genuine example of discipleship. I am very grateful that you are here in my home Diocese of Baton Rouge! My question is about how we should dress at mass.

For Sunday mass, I always dress appropriately and in a “church-going” manner. But what I’m a little more unsure of is daily mass. At our university’s student center we have daily mass at around noon. Students will often come in between classes if they can and because of this students are usually dressed pretty casually. Sometimes I’ll be in a shirt and shorts or a hoodie and sweatpants when I go, which I would never wear to Sunday mass but I am already wearing them to class during the week. I know that regardless of if it’s Sunday or daily mass, it’s still the mass and should be respected the same, but it doesn’t always seem practical or comfortable to dress really formal for the entire day on campus. I don’t want to be disrespectful but also don’t want to be all dressed up for the rest of the day as I usually am not back home to change until much later in the evening.

Is it appropriate to dress in a casual way like this to daily mass given the surrounding circumstances of being in the middle of a school day? What are the guidelines for how to dress for Sunday and daily mass and do they differ any? Thank you for any help you can provide.


Universal Points (30:48)

(Please note that these are a summary of the answers Fr. Josh provides in the podcast.)

  1. Ash Wednesday  – Our ashes can be a physical reminder to us that we need to repent and pray for other people. It can also potentially be a gift for other people to be drawn back to God.
  2. Downplaying Mortal Sins During Confession – Don’t be too specific but also don’t be to vague.
  3. Dress Code for Mass – Show Jesus that he is important to you, but especially for daily Mass in the middle of the day, come as you are.


Want to browse the previous resources Fr. Josh has recommended? Click here to select an episode and view the shownotes.

1 Comment

  1. Takeaway: Pray with penitents from Scripture. As soon as Fr. Josh said that, I was there. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through those words.

    3 Hail Marys for the priest.


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