Learn the ancient Ash Wednesday admonition in Latin

When you receive ashes on your forehead on Ash Wednesday, the priest recites a formula taken from the third chapter of Genesis, God’s grim admonition to Adam and Eve as they are turned out of the Garden of Eden as punishment for their sin: “Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.”

These words are the conclusion of the curse our first parents inflicted upon themselves when they disobeyed the Creator’s mandate. Instead of work being joyful and pleasant, God declares that man’s labor for survival on this earth will be frustrating and difficult. The cross is made of ash collected after the burning of blessed palms fronds from Palm Sunday.

Ashes symbolize grief and repentance and are a visible sign of our repentance for sin as we begin the season of Lent.