Carla asked:

Is there something in the bible that says we should get ashes on Ash Wednesday or is that just something the Catholic church has done throughout the years?

Fr. Vincent Serpa replied:

"Historically through the Old Testament we find penance being associated with sackcloth and ashes. They would dress in sackcloth and sprinkle ashes over themselves. David did this after he had sinned and was repentant. And you find this over and over. But as far as anything in the bible saying we should put ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, no because there was no Ash Wednesday then and it's not something, it's not a sacrament, it's not something that changes us, has an effect on us, you know interiorly. It's more of a symbol that reminds us that this is a special day because of what our Lord endured.

So we reflect on the fact that we've come from dust and we will die one day and we'll return to dust. But He is our hope and we live with that ... but we're responsible to Him. He is our God and we owe Him the homage that the Church asks of us. So humbling ourselves by recognizing this and putting it out there for other people to see, not because we're trying to draw attention to ourselves but to Him. After all it's not a name that we put on our forehead, it's the cross. It's all about Christ and His love for us as a witness to how good He is and how He deserves this attention ... It's not a holy day of obligation either but people are drawn to it because it's a very powerful symbol and symbols touch us on many levels."


Catholic Answers, "The Chaplain is in" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: March 5, 2014

Name of show: The Chaplain is in

Guest comments by: Fr. Vincent Serpa

Question appeared in show: 15:46

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