SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Christian season of Lent starts on Wednesday with the annual period of fasting, prayer, and charitable giving beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Many Christians will show up to work or school with ashes smudged on their foreheads on Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and Christians all over the world
confess their sins and profess their devotion to God.

Christians from many denominations have recognized the holy season for 40 days leading up to Easter. For many centuries, Christians have received a sign of the cross with ashes on their forehead at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortality and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness.

The tradition has its origins in the Old Testament where sinners performed acts of public penance. The use of ashes is to remind parishioners of their mortality.

22News Spoke with Reverend Callard of Christ Church Cathedral about the significance of this sacrament. “When we put the ashes on, we say remember that you are dust and to dust, you shall return it’s a way of looking at the beauty of how our lives are even though they are very short we want to capture that moment of beauty and to remember that our lives are really in God’s hands as big as powerful as we think we are always in gods hands,” said Reverend Tom Callard Dean Christ Church Cathedral.

During Ash Wednesday service, parishioners will hear the phrase “Remember, that you are dust and to dust, you shall return,” from the Book of Genesis. The ashes represent a person acknowledging and showing remorse for their sins. Reverend Callard hopes that people reflect during this holy season of Lent, and work to become kinder and more compassionate people in the world.