Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a season of penance, prayer, and reflection. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. This is beautifully expressed in Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your merciful love,
according to your great compassion,
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me completely from my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.