What's that on your forehead? It's Ash Wednesday
It’s Ash Wednesday and chances are, someone you know showed up at work or school with a smear of ashes on their forehead.
It’s likely they are among the many Christians around the world who are observing Ash Wednesday today. Ash Wednesday is the traditional beginning of the Lenten season.
During Ash Wednesday services, clergy use ashes to trace a cross on parishioners’ foreheads as a symbol of repentance. Traditionally, ashes used to observe the day come from the burning of palm leaves used during Palm Sunday services the previous year. The words "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return" remind believers of their mortality.
Ash Wednesday and Lent are observed particularly in Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran and United Methodist faith communities, although other Christian denominations often participate, as well.
There are a couple of Ash Wednesday photo contests out there.
There’s one called “Back That Ash Up 2015″ (I couldn’t make this up even if I tried) sponsored by piousposers.com. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also has an Ash Wednesday photo contest under way.
Find out more about the USCCB’s contest: USCCB’s Ash Wednesday photo contest
Meanwhile, Busted Halo (bustedhalo.com) has a short video that offers an explanation of Ash Wednesday and Lent in a nutshell.
It’s called “Ash Wednesday and Lent in Two Minute” and you can view it here:
(PHOTO CAPTION: The Rev. Stephen Hamilton, pastor of St. Monica Catholic Church, uses wet ashes to trace a cross on the forehead of a woman during a 2014 Ash Wednesday service at the Edmond church. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman.)