1. The Meaning of Ashes
Ash Wednesday worship involves church services where ashes are placed in the shape of a cross on the foreheads of worshipers. The practice is meant to stress mortality and penance.
The usage of ashes for these purposes has a long history in Judeo-Christian circles, as seen in the Old Testament when various figures would wear sackcloth and put ashes on their heads as a solemn call to repentance.
"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," explains 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."