Q. 1. What is Ash Wednesday? What is it purpose?
A. 1. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a 40-day period that prepares Catholics for the commemoration of the glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and some Christians from other denominations receive ashes on their forehead in the shape of a cross. Such is an outward sign of the sinfulness of Christians and their need for penance.
The ashes are a symbol of our mortality, a reminder that one day we will all die and our bodies will return to dust. For that reason, when the ashes are administered on the forehead, the priest or celebrant says, "Remember that you are dust and into dust you shall return."
The practice of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday was implemented by Pope Urban II in the 11th century.
Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. According to the Church law, Catholics older than the age of 14 are supposed to abstain from meat. In addition, those who are between the ages of 18 and 59, not including pregnant or nursing mothers, should eat only one full meal.