What’s with that dirt on your head? Who hasn’t gotten that question on Ash Wednesday before? Do you feel silly when people ask you about your ashes? And is it hard to answer their questions? Having ashes on your forehead isn’t just some weird Catholic thing: it’s a tradition that finds its roots in the Old Testament. “I turned to the Lord God, to seek help, in prayer and petition, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes” (Daniel 9:3).
When the ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of the Cross, it is a reminder of several things.
First, it is a call to repentance: a physical sign that we are sinners in need of forgiveness, which is how the prophets used it in the Old Testament.
Second, it is to remind us that God created us from the earth and when we die, we will return to it.
This year we will be distributing ashes using a clean Qtip for each person receiving ashes.