Monday, February 23, 2009

What is Ash Wednesday?

Lets define some words used during this Lenten season:
*Ash Wednesday- Marks the beginning of Lent
*Lent- 40 day period before Good Friday
*Good Friday- The day Christ was crucified
*Easter- The day Christ resurrected 

Why do Christians receive ashes on their forehead?
In the Bible a mark on the forehead is a symbol of a person's ownership. By having their foreheads marked with the sign of a cross, this symbolizes that the person belongs to Jesus Christ, who died on a Cross.

Why use ashes?
1. Because ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance
2. They also symbolize death and remind us of our mortality. Thus when the priest uses his thumb to sign one of the faithful with the ashes, he says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return," which is modeled after God's address to Adam (Genesis 3:19; cf. Job 34:15, Psalms 90:3, 104:29, Ecclesiastes 3:20). 

All in all, it's a beautiful tradition that Christians have kept since around  A.D. 900 (that's a long time!).  Remember, Lent is a season of sacrifice, repentance, and conversion.  I hope this helped understand a little more about Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.