Today, as we receive ashes on our foreheads, we are willingly marking ourselves as followers of Christ. In the early days of the Church—and still in some places in our world today—this could be a dangerous act, with persecution being a very real threat. May we remember the profound act of faith we are participating in by wearing Christ’s cross for all to see.
Jesus, we begin this holy season of repentance
not because we seek punishment but cleansing.
As the smudge of ash wears off and is washed away,
may I keep your sacrifice for all humankind close to my heart
and present in my thoughts.
Solemn as the next 40 days will be,
there is a catharsis in this time and in the small, smoldering coal of hope
that keeps our spirits warm until Easter.
If someone asks you what the ashes on your forehead mean, don’t shy away from talking about how they are a reminder of our own mortality and a commitment to repentance during the season of Lent. Think of it as a way to evangelize.