Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the season of preparation for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday. After the homily at the Eucharist, the ashes, which give Ash Wednesday its name, are blessed. The ashes are made from burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday. Ashes have traditionally been a sign of penance. They are distributed with the sign of the cross on the forehead and with the words: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
How are we called to be faithful to the Gospel? In the readings at the Eucharist we heard that we are called to return to God with our whole hearts, to be ambassadors of Christ through reconciliation. . .
. . .and to do our righteous deeds in secret, not for show or acclaim, so that the Father, who sees what is hidden, will bless us.