"Remember, man is dust, and unto dust shall return." Ashes are a symbol of repentance, not a sacrament, and are to remind us spiritually of our blessings, help develop in us a spirit of humility and of service to the One who made us and called us to be His.
Some segments of the Christian faith and tradition follow daily scripture readings and prayer during what has come to be called the Lenten Journey. Ash Wednesday (today, Feb. 25), the beginning of that journey to Palm Sunday and Calvary's cross. Daily devotions and prayer during this period can make the Resurrection Sunday (Easter, April 12) more personal and meaningful.
The Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday or the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21. Making the Lenten season one of doing penitence does not fit the New Testament life and teachings of Jesus. Repentance does. Penitence is something done to make things "right," only REPENTANCE toward God can do that.
Psalm 51: 1 "Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness; According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions."
Henri J.M, Nouwen's prayer: "Lord, cleanse me of my heard-heartedness. Help me embrace your infinite mercy and love in my life." A-men.