Today is Ash Wednesday which signals the start of Lent a season of fasting and prayer.
Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. As the ashes are applied to a person’s forehead, the following words are spoken: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Alternatively, the sometimes, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” is used instead
Even non-Christians and the excommunicated are welcome to receive the ashes. The ashes are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass.