I love Ash Wednesday. It is by far my favorite Holy Day of Obligation and always has been.

When I was a child, I loved Ash Wednesday because I was an attention whore. I mean, let’s be real here, wandering around all day with a big ole black cross on your forehead is just about as attention seeking as you can possibly get. Look at me, world! I’ve got dirt on my head! (Luckily for the general public, I was in a Catholic school, so my attention seeking was less obnoxious than it was childish.)

Since I’m now a grownup lady, I’m less in it for the attention than I am for the ritual. Since college, my Ash Wednesdays have all looked the same: get up, go to the first mass of the morning, go to breakfast. One year, we even managed to get a whole group together, which was awesome.

For the record, I understand that seeking out restaurants that serve Crab Cake Eggs Benedict might not be the most religiously sound way to ring in Lent, but if you’re only allowed one full meal, you may as well make that meal spectacular.

So this Wednesday, like any other Ash Wednesday, I got up, dragged my husband to 7:00 am mass, got ashed and found a place to eat breakfast. It’s a good way to slow down for a minute, think about how short life really is and ease your way into a season of penitence and preparation.

And that’s why Ash Wednesday is my favorite Holy Day of Obligation.