Ash Wednesday: What Is Ash Wednesday? How Do We Observe It? Why Should We?
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten Season. It is 40 days of repentance, fasting and abstinence to prepare for Good Friday.
Why is it called Ash Wednesday?
Ash is something that is left when something is burned. A reminder that we all come from ashes, and to ashes, we all will return. The priest burns the palm that has been kept from last year’s Palm Sunday and mixes the ashes with holy water to make a grayish paste. When people go to church on Ash Wednesday, the priest dips his thumb in the paste and uses it to make the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead. Christians believe this marks the physical and spiritual beginning of a personal Lenten season in which 40 days of repentance will begin leading up to the celebration of Easter Sunday. The actual moment when the forehead is marked initiates the beginning of lent for each individual person.
Ash Wednesday is also when we begin to do penance for Lent. Penance is something that you do or are given to do in order to show that you are sad or sorry about doing something wrong. We do this to improve our relationship with God and others. The Church suggests two special practices of penance for Lent:
Pray- go to Mass more often, pray more often. During Lent the Stations of the Cross are said at our church every Friday.
Fast- going without food or eating less. It can also mean giving up a certain food or treat.
What do the ashes symbolise?
For Catholics, ash is a symbol of being SORRY for the things they have done wrong.