Every year, we gather on Ash Wednesday to receive ashes on our forehead — but do we truly understand the importance of what we’re doing? Learn more about Ash Wednesday and how we prepare for the Easter season and Jesus’s resurrection.
Ashes help us remember Genesis 3:19, which tells us that we came from dust, and to dust, we will return. We participate in recognition that we need to repent, turn away from our sin, and be faithful to the Gospel. Ashes serve as a reminder that we are given eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Where Do The Ashes Come From?
The ashes that mark your forehead come from the blessed palm branches that were used for the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and blessed with prayers that are thousands of years old.
The Original Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday marks Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and everyone gathered to celebrate his arrival by waving palm fronds. This was the beginning of the final seven days of Jesus’s earthly ministry.
Ash Wednesday signifies our preparation for Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus. We come to God and ask for mercy, forgiveness, and compassion, and we repent of our sins. By doing so, in 40 days, we are able to celebrate Easter with the joy that God intended!
Ashes in the Bible
Over 40 passages in the Bible associate ashes with grief and mourning. In the Old Testament, people used ashes as a sign of repentance. Daniel 9 says that Daniel “turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes,” and Job 42 shows that Job repented “in dust and ashes.” The Ninevites did the same when Jonah came to them. In Esther 4, Mordecai learns of Haman’s plan to destroy the Jewish people and tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth and ashes, and “went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly.”
Don’t Wash Them Away
In the Middle Ages, ashes were not drawn in a cross on the forehead; they were sprinkled across the head. Now, we leave them on our head as a sign of humility. This is a great opportunity to talk to the people in your life about your faith!
St. Charles Borromeo, a private school in Orlando, is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.