Ash Wednesday • Why do we put ashes on our foreheads?

Ashes are a sign of death. The Jews had multiple experiences of their city being destroyed. By sitting in the ashes, they would show God they had learned their lesson before the destruction happened, and so hopefully avert it. Most of the time we try to look good. But today we admit: "I'm a filthy sinner. And I'm going to die because of my sins."

Ashes are also a source of new life. Fires burn away all the junk. New growth springs up after a fire. Our ashes come from the Palm Sunday palms. They remind us of the victory Jesus won over both sin and death. Accepting the ashes means that I am choosing voluntarily to die with Jesus so that I can also rise with him to new life.

(2 Mar 2022)

Going Deeper: What do I need to die to in order to rise to new life in Christ? Ask Jesus to show you what you should be giving up for Lent, and to give you the courage to do it.

With appreciation to Fr. Mike Schmitz