Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Today, for the first time in my life, I will go to Mass to get a cross of ashes imposed on my forehead. I don’t come from a liturgical background and this will be my first time taking part in Lent. I wanted to really understand the meaning of this tradition before walking through the doors of my church today.

So what’s the significance of having a priest put ashes upon my forehead? Today we read Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21, which seems like it contradicts what we do on Ash Wednesday. This scripture tells us to, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.” It’s hard to hide a black cross on your forehead. But the point of the ashes isn’t to show others what we believe, in the words of my pastor, “it’s to remind ourselves that we are ashes all the time, just waiting to fall down,” (Remember the nursery rhyme, right?). I know, seems like a bummer doesn’t it? When the pastor imposes the ashes he will remind us that, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” But in the Christian faith, this isn’t a sad thing at all because when we return to dust, we’re still forever alive spiritually. “Ash Wednesday is when we acknowledge that reality in liturgy. We come to be reminded of our mortality by the ashes and to be reminded of our immortality by the Body and Blood of Christ,” my pastor, Rev. Jim Bradley, said.

Read full blog post here.

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