Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent penance period which makes it an important tradition for the Catholic Church. KAMI learned that ashes are associated with penance or repentance from sin.
In an article by the TIME magazine, Lauren F. Winner of Duke Divinity School said that the tradition of Ash Wednesday started way back 11th Century.
“You see that in the book Daniel in the nine chapter there’s a line about associating fasting with ashes, so ashes are associated with penance, which is the dominant theme of Lent,” Winner said.
Aside from penance, the practice of putting ashes on the forehead is also a way of connecting one's physical body to the spiritual life.
“The practice of this once a year is an organic way of drawing their faith into their lives,” Winner said.
But, how are the ashes made for the Ash Wednesday?
Fr. Francis Eugene Fadul told Rappler that the ashes came from the palms or “palaspas” that were used during the Palm Sunday of the previous year.
During the Shrove Tuesday, a day before Ash Wednesday, the palms are burned and collected. Later on, they will mix the ashes with holy water and bless it.
Fr. Fadul said that the marking of ashes is a great reminder that “we are dust and to dust we shall return, and that we are invited to conversion and to believe in the Gospel."
According to Fr. Jun Secson, some churches burn the palms on Sunday or Tuesday before the Ash Wednesday. He added that other churches burn it publicly along with the blessing of it and Psalm 51 (Miserere) is usually sung as they burn the palms.
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