What is Ash Wednesday?

Questions about Christian Faith & Life - What is Ash Wednesday - Jesus Christ for Muslims

Ash Wednesday is an important day and in the annual calendar. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a season of fasting and prayer to God. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. 

Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a sign of penance. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us.

In Catholic churches a priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead and he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Alternatively, the priest may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Because of the sacrificial death of Christ, when we repent and come to Him, God forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.