“Today is Ash Wednesday. This significant day, historically, inaugurates the period of spiritual preparation leading up to Easter Sunday, which, this year, falls on April 5th.
The ashes used in this meaningful ceremony are generally made by the burning of the “blessed” palm branches that were utilized in religious services the previous year on Palm Sunday, the Sunday prior to Easter Sunday.
Having already blessed the ashes and sprinkled them with holy water, the priest will dip his thumb in the ashes and, making the sign of the cross on the recipient’s forehead, will proclaim in a simple statement or expression something similar to “Remember that from dust you were made, and to dust you shall return.” The intent behind these words is to serve as a reminder of our mortality, and to encourage the return to right relationship with God. It demonstrates the outward sign of our humility, and is a powerful statement of one’s faith.”
Jim Dorsey, Chaplain
Director of Pastoral Care, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital