Ash Wednesday gleans its name from the practice of blessing ash made from palm branches blessed on the previous year's Palm Sunday; placing it on the foreheads of participants in the sign of a cross, to the accompaniment of the words "Repent, and believe in the Gospel”.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, an observation of Jesus Christ spending 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Lent is intended to be a time of self-denial, moderation, fasting, and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits. Ash Wednesday commences this period of spiritual discipline. The day is observed by many Western Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics.
Since the Bible does not explicitly command or condemn such a practice, Christians are free to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday. However, repentance of sinful activities is something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. The identification of oneself as a Christian should not only be apparent during lent but daily, remembering that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.
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