The name Ash Wednesday originates from the practice of believers putting ashes on their forehead in a cross symbol to show their faith. The ashes symbolize the dust from which people were created, and to which one day they will return.
Lent is a 40 day (not including Sundays) time period where people of the Christian faith repent for their sins – generally by restricting their lifestyles. This could mean giving up smoking, giving up drinking, giving up eating candy, not gossiping – it is a personal choice as to what one decides to forego or restrict.
It is a movable feast, which means the dates can change, but it is always on a Wednesday.
In the past, dusting yourself in ashes was a way of showing repentance for sins and to ask for forgiveness – and that is the symbolism today.
Father in Heaven,
the light of your truth bestows sight
to the darkness of sinful eyes.
May this season of repentance
bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness
and the gift of Your light.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.