Ever wondered why during Ash Wednesday we go to church to have the cross signed on our foreheads? Well, the ash represents “man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.” It is a symbol of penance and contrition. It is our call to humility and sacrifice.
It is also a great reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. It also reminds us of our mortality; thus we are called to be humble and to sacrifice.
It all started in a ceremony of ages past when Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. Then on Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts that they were to wear during the 40 days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms the previous year. Then eventually, all penitents came to receive ashes out of devotion.
Ash Wednesday is truly important to us Catholics because it means that the Season of Lent is already starting. This is the season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. This is the reason why we attained our redemption and salvation.
When we were marked with ashes at the beginning of Lent, it already indicated our recognition of the need for deeper conversion of our lives. Therefore, let us seek the mercy of God during this season of renewal, by repenting, recognizing our weakness as human beings, by reconciling with our Father the Almighty, and embracing our new lives in Christ.