Usually on Ash Wednesday, we would receive a cross of ashes on our forehead. As we go throughout the day, we might encounter other Catholics who also display the same sign of faith.
“We can talk about wearing our faith on our sleeves, but this is wearing our faith on our foreheads once a year! And it is a way of expressing and feeling solidarity with our brother and sister Catholics,” reflected Fr. James Kubicki on Morning Air.
This year, the distribution of ashes will look a little bit different. The Vatican’s Congregation of Divine Worship has instructed dioceses across the world to modify their distribution in order to avoid the spread of illness during the pandemic. Rather than a cross traced on your forehead, ashes will likely be sprinkled on top of your head. (Here’s your warning to not wear a light-colored or easily stainable shirt to Mass today!)
These ashes are a reminder of our mortality. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” you may hear the priest proclaim.
Fr. Kubicki reflected on past experiences with distributing ashes to young children or babies. “For me, it’s always a challenging thing to look at a tiny baby or a child and to say, ‘Remember you are dust and to dust you will return,’ because they are just beginning their life. But none of us knows how long we have, how many days we have to this life.”
He continued, “It’s a good reminder for all of us and, I think, for the parents who are holding those children to remember this child is a gift to me. And this child won’t be with me forever; I won’t be with this child forever, so let’s live this life well, the way God wants us to.”
This Lent, take time to reflect on those words. The next 40 days are an opportunity to realize our mortality and embrace the practices that will bring us closer to God. If tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, why not live for eternity?