Ashes used are from palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday and churchgoers receive ashes in the form of a cross on their foreheads.
Lent is a time of preparation and prayer before the passion and death of Jesus Christ and his ultimate resurrection on Easter Sunday. Lent concludes with the Mass of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, followed by Good Friday services and the celebration of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made men and women. As a priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, the priest says: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’’