Meaning of Ash Wednesday
What is Ash Wednesday:
Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins for Catholics, which is the forty days before Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday.
This celebration, which does not have a fixed date in the liturgical calendar, therefore varies from year to year and is celebrated between February and March, just after Shrove Tuesday and six weeks before Easter.
Ash Wednesday is a special day for Catholics in which fasting and abstinence must be put into practice, to begin the forty days of penance in which Catholics seek to purge their sins and dedicate time to God.
The use of ash derives from an ancient Jewish custom in which people who had sinned used to cover part of their body with ashes. It was a way of showing his desire to get away from evil and get closer to God.
This tradition was modified to the one currently practiced, in which the faithful attend Mass on Ash Wednesday on their own initiative and in an attitude of reflection to reconnect with God during Lent.
The ash that is used for the imposition of the cross on people's foreheads, derives from the cremation of the blessed bouquets on Palm Sunday of the previous liturgical year.
During the imposition of the ashes, the priest pronounces one of the following phrases, in order to remember that life on earth is fleeting and that the definitive life is found in heaven:
- "Remember, what dust you are and what dust you will become."
- "Repent and believe in the Gospel."
- Grant us, Lord, forgiveness and make us pass from sin to grace and from death to life ”.
On Ash Wednesday, anyone baptized or not, even faithful believer or not, can receive the imposition of ashes. Likewise, it is not a mandatory day, that is, mandatory, nor is it necessary to have recently confessed.
- Palm Sunday.