The sidewalks outside our office are crowded with Catholics leaving the nearby St Francis Church bearing the Ash Wednesday ashes on their forehead.

They've been dispensing ashes from St Francis on 31st street since 7.30 this morning and will be doing so continuously until 7 p.m.

St Francis is my favorite church in New York not surprisingly really when St Francis was my favorite saint for so many years. (At least he was until I realized my hopeless causes needed St Jude's intervention!)

It's nice to see the roiling commerce of New York stall for a few moments as people battle round Madison Sqaure Garden and Penn Station to get on to 31st street.

And its funny to see the double-takes of some of the street vendors as hundreds of people make their way past with the obligatory ashes on their forehead.

St Francis of course was home to Fr Mychal Judge until his untimely death in the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001.

It's a beautiful church and you can pay tribute to Fr Judge while receiving the obligatory ashes.

Anyway, for those of you looking for ashes today St Francis is open for you.
Masses: 7:00, 7:30, 8:30, 8:30, 11:30 AM; 12:15, 1:15, 4:30, 5:30 PM

Ashes will be distributed continuously in the Lower Church from 7:30 AM to 6:15 PM, and 6:15 to 7:00 PM in the Upper Church.

Confessions will be heard in the Lower Church from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM.