" Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return." Gn. 3:19
Today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent which is a season for repentance and forgiveness.
The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return,". The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times and symbolizes mourning, mortality and penance. The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins.
What does imposition of ashes on our foreheads mean for us today? In a world driven by greed, glamour and lust the imposition of ashes is reminder of the mortality of our physical bodies. However great, rich and beautiful we are today our bodies will one day turn to ashes and the greatest mystery of this is we do not know when and how it will happen.
The use of ashes should be a reminder of our short mission of earth. The passage, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” ( Mark8:36) clearly spells what we should use our lives and our mortal bodies for during our short stint on earth.
Yes, for us today the ashes should remind us that we must give up greed for material things and instead devout our lives to one of humility and simplicity. It is a reminder that we should share the little we have with those who are less fortunate than us. Instead of looking for the external beauty in others let us seek the inner beauty in everyone we meet.
Wishing all a Blessed & Holy Ash Wednesday and Lent