Students at Yale Divinity School read the Ten Commandments, and repented of breaking them. Then they burned the paper to ash. They read the Ten Amendments – that is, the Bill of Rights – and repented of breaking them, and burned them to Ash, too. The Divinity students then put the ashes on their foreheads.
This sounds like the kind of street theater that gives novel liturgy (and leftist politics) a bad name. But the more I think about it, the more I think this is was a well-done act. The students did not blame others, but repented of their own sins and complicity in sins. They wore the sign of their repentance.
Some people have, of course, fussed about the Ash Wednesday ceremony. As I read their criticisms, though, I think they miss the distinction between protest and repentance. This was not a protest. It was an act of contrition.