Ash Wednesday Begins Period of Self-Deliberation

The Roman Catholic Church tradition and practice of Lent began in 400 A.D. Lent is a period of preparation for Easter Sunday, a time of sober examination, reviewing one's behaviors and attitudes, and atoning for past sins.


Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, begins with the ritual placement of ashes, made in the form of a cross, on penitents' foreheads. It is a reminder of how sin causes one to become separate from God, cast into a vale of grief and sadness. With awareness of sin's repercussions, penitents can make adjustments to bring themselves closer to God again, through the intercession of His son, Jesus', death on the cross.

During early years of Christianity, penitents, who had openly admitted their sinful natures, did so that they be allowed to partake in Easter Sunday celebrations as members of their church communities. The marking with ashes declared their intention to humble themselves through admission, contemplation, atonement, and restoration in seeking God's benediction once again.

The power of acknowledging one's spiritual weakness that can be transformed by self-examination has influenced legions to do the same over time. Responding to growing numbers of church members requesting they also be marked with ashes, the Church began offering the ritual of ashes to all church members.

Ash Wednesday's significance is the opportunity to rid one's self of falsehoods, delusions, and self-idealizations, humbling oneself before God as the sinner one is through the mark of ashes. Only by subjugating oneself before God, can one begin their journey back to Him.

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