Ash Wednesday is the official beginning of the season of Lent.
What is required of me on Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is an obligatory day of fasting and abstinence (from meat).
What happens on Ash Wednesday?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. In addition, a special rite is performed where the faithful receive ashes on their foreheads.
What is the purpose of the ashes?
In Biblical times, ashes were used as a sign of mourning. We receive the ashes to remind us that we are entering a season of penance focusing on, and preparing for, Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
In addition, the ashes are a symbol of our mortality. They serve as a reminder that we will die and are reliant upon God's grace and mercy. "For dust you are, and to dust you shall return." ~ Genesis 3:19