Feb 22, 2012
The starkness of Ash Wednesday ushers in the Church’s springtime for Latin-Rite Catholics. Two day ago on “Black” Monday, Great Lent began for Eastern-Rite Catholics. During this lenten spring (German and Anglo-Saxon: lencthen, lenct, spring), the central question, who do you say that I am, calls for a renewed personal and ecclesial response. The call to discipleship also invites every Catholic Christian to live as an ambassador of Christ, an awareness that shines the light of Christ outward to others and on to the whole of creation.
The annual rite of receiving ashes sets the tone for Lent. Ashes are a reminder of the transitory nature of this world. Nothing is permanent except Christ and building his kingdom. The ashes used for this day are obtained from olive branches blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.
The First Ash Wednesday
Today, the Church takes us back to that first day of ashes in salvation history when the Lord God passed sentence on our first parents and on fallen humanity: