Catholic faithful all over the world mark today Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of the season of Lent, which is traditionally observed with the marking of ashes on the forehead.
Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are all sinners and thus, we all need the grace of God, It also calls us to become a better Christian by observing prayer, fasting, abstinence and almsgiving, Rev. Fr. Angelo Ansula, parish priest of the Immaculate Conception Church in Murcia said.
The marking of ashes on the forehead symbolizes the call for repentance and renewal, he added.
While it does not have any spiritual effect, Ansula said the marking of ashes is a reminder of man’s sinfulness and that “man is dust, and unto dust man shall return.”
But more than having their foreheads marked with ashes, Fr. Ansula said the faithful are encouraged to attend the holy mass to fully observe the solemnity of the start of Lent.
As published on the website of the Catholic Online, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares the faithful for Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help the faithful develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice, an article in the website stated.
The ashes used in today’s symbolic rites, are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with holy water and are scented by exposure to incense.
While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts, the Catholic Online stated.*NAB