“Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
This is one of the formulas used for the imposition of ashes today. Maybe we should include it as part of our daily prayers the other 364 days of the year. It’s a sobering reminder of the reality of this life. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel,
“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.”
Today we make an exception. Today we wear the ashes on our foreheads as a sign of our humanity, our sinfulness. We are dust and to dust we shall return. Tomorrow the ashes will be gone, but our sacrifice continues.
The tradition of the Church calls for prayer, sacrifice, and charity during the Lenten season. Many of us have a human tradition of “giving it up for Lent”, but are we really doing enough. “Giving it up”,may satisfy the sacrifice part. But prayer and charity are just as important.
Saying a rosary every day, or even just a Hail Mary and an Our Father, are acceptable too, just as long as we do them faithfully and with the proper reverence.
As far as charity, it can be giving our treasure, our time, or just being nicer to people, especially people you don’t particularly like. If someone notices the change, you can tell them joyfully that you’re waiting for the day of Christ’s resurrection. You’re following the Lord’s instructions in today’s Gospel.