Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection. Lent is a time when we prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline.
During Ash Wednesday services, the pastor will place ashes on the forehead. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the pastor applies the ashes, he/she speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday services.