One way to prepare ourselves for Lent is to better understand the day that starts it all: Ash Wednesday, March 1. See our package of resources for the day from our partner Catholic News Service. The words spoken while ashes are pressed on our foreheads launch our pilgrimage into the 40 days of Lent.

The rallying cry of seeming contradictions
On Ash Wednesday we are told to blow a trumpet, and not to; to wash our face while showing our ashes; to gather in great numbers yet also to pray in secret. A pastor unpacks the readings for the day and the course ahead for Lent.

Lent as a pilgrimage on which we are not alone
On Ash Wednesday, the person at the desk next to yours or the clerk in the supermarket line each bear the sign of camaraderie that announces each as a fellow pilgrim taking those first steps on a journey we share.

‘They’ll know we are Christians’: The ritual of ashes
Crossing with ashes dates back to the eighth century to begin Ash Wednesday, a sort of Lent-in-microcosm. Lent’s 40 days have a biblical association with discipline as we walk with Jesus through the desert.