OYPLentenProject21: The Significance of Ashes

“Why does the Church place ashes on our foreheads today? Why does she remind us of death? Death which is the effect of sin! Why?…To prepare us for Christ’s Passover. For the paschal mystery of the Redeemer of the world. Paschal mystery means what we profess in the Creed: “On the third day he rose again”!…Yes. Today we need to hear the “you are dust and to dust you will return” of Ash Wednesday, so that the definitive truth of the Gospel, the truth about the Resurrection, will unfold before us: believe in the Gospel.” St Pope John Paul II

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. This season presents us with the call to purify our hearts and prepares us to receive the new, joyful and hope-filled proclamation of the Lord’s passover.

The ashes remind us of our human frailty. It reminds each one of us that, no matter our status, title, or background, “we are dust, and unto dust we shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)  The placing of ashes also calls us to recognise that we are all sinners constantly in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness in our lives. Despite our sinfulness, the Lord continues to pursue us and pour out his mercy in our lives.

In this season of Lent, we are invited into a time of penitence and simplicity to recognise and re-encounter the saving work of Jesus in our lives through his passion, death and resurrection. How is the Lord inviting you to draw close to him this Lent?

May this season of Lent be a blessed time of purification and a reminder of our true home with Christ.

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