What is the meaning of Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday comes from Latin Dies cinerum (“day of ashes”). It was around the year 591 that Pope Gregory I set the start of Lent on the Wednesday preceding the first Sunday of the Easter season.
Located 46 days before Easter, Ash Wednesday is a day of penance which opens a period of 40 days of abstinence and fasting.
When is Ash Wednesday?
Lent being a movable feast, the date of Ash Wednesday changes each year but is always located the day after Shrove Tuesday. This year it is celebrated on Wednesday February 10, 2024.
For the Eastern Churches, the start of Lent takes place 48 days before Easter and begins on Pure Monday, March 18, 2024.
What is the meaning of ashes in the Catholic religion?
In the Old Testament, the one who covered himself with ashes recognized his sin, regretted it and trusted in God’s forgiveness.
This practice of imposing ashes reminds believers of their human fragility: one day they will die, their bodies will decompose and become dust, ashes. This is why sometimes the priest says: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:19.)
Ash is also the fruit of fire, this fire is the Love of God which is so powerful that it reduces our sin to ashes.
By receiving this ash on their foreheads, the faithful repeat all their faith: yes they will die one day, but God will resurrect them with Jesus Christ for eternal life. The ashes already announce Easter.