Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
Following the example of the Ninevites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told:
“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.
Lent is a time for travelling inward, in order to continue to live our outward lives in consonance with sacred teachings.
Along with more time for prayer and alms giving, we can mindfully take on a variety of things- actively volunteering our time and resources befriending the lonely, feeding the hungry, listening more deeply and caringly, speaking more kindly, reducing our non-ecological habits.