The Ash Wednesday , the first day of Lent , is marked by the imposition of ashes: the priest deposits a little ashes on the forehead of each faithful, in sign of the fragility of the man, but also of the hope in the mercy of God.
The symbolism of ashes is already found in the Old Testament. It evokes globally the representation of sin and the fragility of being. It can be read that when man is covered with ashes, he wants to show God that he recognizes his faults. As a result, he asks God for forgiveness of his sins: he does penance .
A symbol of rebirth
All of us experience sin. How to get away? Jesus teaches us that we will be victorious from sin when we learn through the gospel to replace the fire of evil with the fire of love. For the fire that burns that day destroys first, but at the same time, this fire enlightens, warms, comforts, guides and encourages.
Ash is applied on the forehead to call us even more clearly to conversion, precisely through the path of humility. Ash is what remains when fire has destroyed the matter it has seized. When we see that there is ashes, it is apparently that there is nothing left of what the fire destroyed. It is the image of our poverty. But ashes can also fertilize the earth and life can be reborn under the ashes.
While marking it, the priest said to the faithful: ” Convert yourself and believe in the good news “. Today’s Gospel is a passage from St. Matthew – chapter 6, verses 1 to 6 and 16 to 18 – which incites the faithful to pray and act, not in a proud and ostentatious manner, but in the secret of their hearts:
When you give alms, let your left hand ignore what your right hand gives you, so that your alms will be kept secret; your Father sees what you do in secret.
When you pray, withdraw to the depths of your house, close the door, and pray to your Father who is present in secret.
When you fast, perfume your head and wash your face; so your fasting will not be known to men, but only to the Father who is present in secret.