Catholics: Ash Wednesday Catholic Meaning?

Today is Ash Wednesday which is the start of the Lenten Season 2010.
My question is, what is Ash Wednesday and what is the catholic meaning of it? How did this practice become such an important part of the lives of so many Catholics? Who came up with the idea for this rather odd ritual?

Can you find a mention of Ash Wednesday in the catholic bible?
Also, what is the meaning of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday? How do we explain the popularity of smudging our foreheads with ashes and then walking around all day with dirty faces?

asked by Alexia in Religion | 4584 views | 02-17-2010 at 05:55 PM

Lent is a time of preparation for the death of Christ on Good Friday and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It's a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast.

Roman Catholic, Anglican, and some other churches hold special services at which worshippers are marked with ashes as a symbol of death, and sorrow for sin.

The origin of the custom of using ashes in religious ritual is lost in the mists of pre-history, but we find references to the practice in our own religious tradition in the Old Testament. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, calls for repentance this way: "O daughter of my people, gird on sackcloth, roll in the ashes" (Jer 6:26).

At Masses and services of worship on this day, ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful (or on the tonsure spots, in the case of some clergy). The priest, minister, or in some cases officiating layperson, marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until it wears off.

When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember:
Who we are
That we are creatures of the earth
. "Remember that you are dust"
That we are mortal beings
. "and to dust you will return"
That we are baptized
That we are people on a journey of conversion
. "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"
That we are members of the body of Christ
That smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too

answered by Judas | 02-17-2010 at 05:59 PM

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