You may wonder why so many Christians wear ashes on their forehead. Ashes are a symbol of repentance. Ashes remind us that “[we are] dust and to dust shall [we] return.” c. Genesis 3:19 Catholics wear ashes to symbolize our repentance, and the useless of other pursuits besides the gospel.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time of repentance, introperspective focus, and a reexamination of our lives. Jesus went into the desert and fasted for 40 days before doing his ministry. He was tempted by the devil, and had to grow in spirit in order to do his ministry, work miracles, and preach about the Kingdom of God. So we fast by giving up something, and focus on drawing closer to God before Easter.
Lent has three pilars: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We focus on prayer to have communication with God, and to draw closer, We fast from certain things that distract us and do not lead us closer to God. We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat on Fridays. This may be a certain food, or a harmful social media. We give away money to charity, and focus on serving others before ourselves.
Different people approach Lent as a time of solemn reflection, or even as a sad time for the Church. It is more of a concern for our belief, and readjusting our focus than feeling bad for ourselves. It is a way to prepare for Holy Week and Easter; where the focus of the faith is Jesus’s death and resurrection. It is not waiting like Advent, but rather actively seeking Jesus,believing in the Gospel, and how that reflects in our life.
I pray that Lent is a time of repentance and reflection.
“This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” Mark 1:15