The Roman Catholic Church begins the season of Lent which is the imposition of the ash in the forehead. This is commonly called as the Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday always falls 46 days before Easter. During this day, all Roman Catholics are encouraged to attend mass on this day in order to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.
You might wonder where the ashes came from? The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed from the previous year during Palm Sunday. After burning the palms, the ashes are sprinkle with holy water and this will used during the mass. The priest dips his right thumb in the ashes, making the sign of the cross on each person’s forehead and says “Remember, man that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return”.
The distribution of the ashes reminds as the following:
1. Repentance- In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned and who wished to be readmitted to the Church would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive reminds as of our sinfulness.
2. Fasting and abstinence- The Church emphasizes the penitential nature of Ash Wednesday by reminding us to fast and abstain from meat.
3. Taking Stock of our Spiritual Life- Fasting and abstinence are not simply a form of penance, but it is also a call for us to take of our spiritual lives. We should set out our specific spiritual goals that we would like to happen and how we will pursue them, not only during Lenten season but the rest of our lives.