Ash Wednesday is one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar. Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. The ashes applied to our foreheads symbolize grief – our grief that we have sinned and caused division from God. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who are truly sorry. The Church asks us, during Lent to reflect, pray and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation and preparing to begin His ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.