Ash Wednesday is one of the most important events in the Liturgical Calendar. It marks the beginning of Lent and the preparation for Easter, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. This year, we celebrate Ash Wednesday on the 2nd of March.
It is a period of fasting and prayer which comes from ancient Jewish traditions and is a reminder of human morality and our need to reconcile with God.
During the Ash Wednesday Mass, the Priest will apply ashes in the shape of a cross on the congregation’s forehead saying either “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” These ashes are symbolic of our sins, and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. They also depict the way God created humanity, as said in Genesis 2:7…
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
There is no rule regarding how long you should wear these Ashes on your forehead for, although most will wear them for the entirety of the day as a public expression of their faith.
The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are created from the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, which portrays the event of Jesus entering Jerusalem and the crowd laying palms before him.
“I encourage all of the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family.” – Pope Francis.