"Today, all parish communities undertake an austere and symbolic gesture: the imposition of the ashes."Two 'evocative formulae' accompany this rite, the Pope said:
"You are dust, and to dust you shall return," words that "evoke the human condition," and, "repent, and believe in the Gospel," an "invitation to place the firm and faithful adhesion to the Gospel at the foundation of individual and community renewal."
"The Lenten journey, by bringing us closer to God, enables us to look upon our brothers and sisters and their needs with new eyes. For this reason, Lent is a favorable moment to convert to love; a love capable of adopting the Lord's attitude of compassion and mercy, as I seek to recall in my Message for Lent, which has as its theme the Gospel passage: 'Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity'."