The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs until the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday.
The ashes we receive symbolise death and remind us of our own mortality and judgement, requesting us to look again at our lives and cleanse ourselves of our sins so that we may be prepared to face the final judgement.
The wearing of ashes is also a sign of humility before God and our neighbour. Ashes on our forehead is a visible reminder, both to ourselves and others, of our sinful nature and our need for God's forgiveness.
The wearing of ashes, this outward sign, is meaningless unless it is accompanied by true and sincere sorrow for our sins.
The prophet Joel says:
return to me with all your heart,
'Yet even now, says the Lord,
with fasting, weeping and with mourning;
rend your hearts and not your clothes.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, rich in mercy.'(Joel 2: 12-13)
Have a holy and prayerful Lent.