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### Why we receive the ashes Following the example of the Nine vites, who did penance in sackcloth and ashes, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return." Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice. The distribution of ashes comes from a ceremony of ages past. Christians who had committed grave faults performed public penance. On Ash Wednesday, the Bishop blessed the hair shirts which they were to wear during the forty days of penance, and sprinkled over them ashes made from the palms from the previous year. Then, while the faithful recited the Seven Penitential Psalms, the penitents were turned out of the church because of their sins -- just as Adam, the first man, was turned out of Paradise because of his disobedience. The penitents did not enter the church again until Maundy Thursday after having won reconciliation by the toil of forty days' penance and sacramental absolution. Later, all Christians, whether public or secret penitents, came to receive ashes out of devotion. In earlier times, the distribution of ashes was followed by a penitential procession. ### The Ashes The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

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1 Sarah Mangum = "God created man from dust: Genesis 2:7"
2 Stjepan Tokic = "Dok svećenik posipa svakog vjernika u glavi, ili je on čini znak križa pepelom na čelu, govoreći: "Obratite se i vjerujte evanđelju, ili" Sjeti se, čovječe, ti si prah iu prah ćeš pretvoriti, jer samo tvoja duša je vječna"
3 Jeff Smith = "Here is an approximate translation of Stjepan's explanation (Croatian) from Google Translate:"While the priest sprinkled every believer in his head, or he makes the sign of the cross with ashes on the forehead  saying, "Repent and believe the gospel," or " Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you turn, because only your soul is eternal.""
4 Ahmed M = "When a Christian dies the person's soul is transported into heaven to be with Christ."
5 Ahmed M = "Jesus told us there is rejoicing in heaven when one soul is saved."
6 Ahmed M = "The God who takes great delight in us, rejoicing over us with singing, will certainly cheer us across the finish line as we complete our race here on earth."