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Friday, 23 February 2018
Ash Wednesday PDF Print E-mail

alt"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return. "

The Church calls us to penance, by fasting and by abstaining from meat, on this day. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent.

 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes
. .
Ecclesiastes 1

These words are to remind us that the things of this world are transient, and Christians must always keep an eye on the world to come. Recalling this truth is one of the principles behind the use of ashes on the forehead on Ash Wednesday:

1) To remind us that we are mortal, and that our days on earth are numbered,

2) and that we are radically dependent on Jesus Christ to overcome this fate.


The Blessing of the Ashes
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After the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water, he puts some on each forehead, the head being the seat of pride. He puts the ashes on in the shape of a Cross to remind us of our hope, and he says the words of Genesis 3:

" Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return. "

It is customary to leave the ashes on the forehead, throughout the day, until they wear off naturally. The ashes are a witness to things that many in our society may not wish to embrace:
the reality of death, and the hope of resurrection in Our Lord, Jesus Christ
.

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