"Lent" comes from an old English word for "spring" - Lent is a time for a new beginning, a time to turn around and change our mind and come back to the Lord.
Ashes symbolize a fire that was once burning, but has gone out.
What in my spiritual life was once burning, but has been reduced to ashes?
Where was there once a fire that has now grown dim, or has gone out?
Where was I once enthusiastic?
Where was I once dedicated?
Where was I once committed?
What prayer, fasting, and almsgiving will I try to do so that the embers in the fire of my spiritual life will come back to a flame by the breath of the Holy Spirit?
Lent is our time to cooperate with the Lord (through prayer, fasting and almsgiving) so the ashes will be stirred back into a flame.
This Ash Wednesday homily is part of Fr. Allan MacDonald's series for lent.