These are the words the priest recites to each and every person who receives ashes on Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is the official first day of Lent and starts 46 days of preparation for the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. On this first day, Catholic faithful confess and repent for their sins and receive the sign of the cross upon their foreheads as a symbol of penance and mourning. The priest places the sign of the cross using a mixture of blessed ashes and holy water.
These ashes are made by burning leftover palm plants from the previous year’s Palm Sunday and mixed with water and incense. The receiving of ashes on Ash Wednesday dates back to the 900’s AD.
Tradition has it that once these ashes are placed on the forehead they are not washed off until after sundown. This is a profession of faith to others.
The day is also observed by fasting or abstaining from meat. In 2009, Ash Wednesday will be celebrated on February 25th.