As this is being published I should be at Mass and hopefully I got there early enough to get a parking spot and a seat.
Today is the start of Lent and the last Mass for Pope Benedict. It is a day of fasting and abstinence.It's the day that "the Alleluia is buried" until it can be risen again with Christ on Easter Sunday. While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation many will make it to Mass at some point during the day. Those who make it to Mass will have a cross rubbed onto their foreheads using a mixture containing last year's palms.
While the ashes are being rubbed on the you will hear one of two sentences "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return." Genesis 3:19 or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." Mark 1:1, translations may differs.
Why ashes? Receiving of the ashes does not wipe away or absolve us of our sins, however it is a sign of our repentance. Remember all those times in the bible when people would tear their clothes, put on sack cloth and put ashes on their heads, this is like that on a smaller scale.
So today whether you make it to Mass or not, that although we aren't called to tear open our clothes and put on sack cloth we are called to tear open our hearts. To turn away from our sins, to be repentant. To grow closer to Jesus.