Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. On Ash Wednesday the priest blesses the ashes. These ashes are made from the palms which were blessed on Palm Sunday last year. Ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance; penitents wore ‘sackcloth and ashes’ to show that they were in need of forgiveness and that term is still in common usage today. Ashes also remind us that our life on earth will come to an end and that our eternal life with God will then begin. This is what we believe happens in baptism and so the beginning of our Lenten journey is inextricably linked to our baptismal journey. The sign of the cross is made as the ashes are put on our foreheads. The priest or the minister says ‘Repent, and believe in the Gospel,’ or similar words. The signing with ashes reminds us of our dying to the old way of life in baptism and challenges us to live our lives in the light of faith. Ash Wednesday takes place in our Parish next Wednesday, March 1st at 9am in Kilshanroe Church and 9.30am in Derrinturn Church.