Q. Why do you call the first day of Lent Ash Wednesday?
A. From the ceremony of blessing ashes upon that day, and putting them upon the foreheads of the faithful, to remind them that they must very quickly return to dust, and therefore must not neglect to lay hold of this present time of mercy, but, like the Ninevites and other ancient penitents, do penance for their sins in sackcloth and ashes.
The prayers which are said by the Church for the blessing of the ashes are directed for the obtaining from God the spirit of compunction, and the remission of sins for all those who receive, those ashes; and the priest, in making the sign of the cross with the ashes on the forehead of each one of the faithful, says these words : "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and into dust thou shalt return."