From the Chaplain: Ash Wednesday?
What's That? Why Ashes?
Jesus retreated into the wilderness and fasted for forty days to prepare for his ministry. It was for him a time of contemplation, reflection, and preparation. By observing Lent, most Christians join Jesus on his retreat. Lent consists of the forty days before Good Friday, the day of Jesus' crucifixion. The ancient biblical symbol of ashes, a sign of remorse, repentance, and mourning, are especially appropriate as we reflect on Jesus' work of facing death in order that we might have life. The marking of their forehead with a cross made of ashes also reminds us that:
- Death comes to everyone; we truly are "dust, and to dust we shall return"
- We're not perfect, and sorrow for the ways we've hurt each other is appropriate.
- We can and must change ourselves for the better.
- God made the first human being by breathing life into dust; without God, human beings are nothing more than dust and ashes
- It's also a reminder of the mark of the cross made at baptism; the cross reminds us that despite our mortality, we still belong to God.