Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is the day that Catholics proceed to the altar (usually during Mass) to have ashes (in the form of a cross) placed on their foreheads while the following words are being said: "Remember, that you are dust and to dust you shall return" or "Repent, and believe the Gospel". The practice of placing ashes on the face is an ancient practice of public penitents. The ashes themselves come from the burning of the palm fronds of last Palm Sunday and are mixed with water to form a sort of paste that adhere to the forehead.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics are to abstain from meat and to fast. Fasting means that we may eat one full meal and two smaller meals not to combine, in size, to one full meal. Elderly persons and those with medical needs may be exempt from the fast, but not the abstention from meat.
All this is part of our spiritual preparation for Easter, which I will explain in a later post.