4. The Symbolism of Ashes
For western churches, Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which involves church services where ashes are placed in a cross shape on the foreheads of worshipers.
The practice is meant to convey the themes of mortality and penance, with the ash often coming from the burned remains of branches from last year's Palm Sunday.
"This act symbolizes our mortality as well as our need for ongoing repentance. It is a reminder that this life is short and merely a foreshadowing of what we shall become through the redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross," noted catholic.org.
"The work of our redemption will not be complete until we are raised from the dead, in resurrected bodies like His own and called to the eternal communion of heaven."