Lent is the period of 40 days before Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday. The 40 days (Sundays are excluded) are representing Jesus time fasting in the wilderness before He began his public ministry.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday Lent is a time for reflection and preparation for the celebration of Easter. Traditionally Lent has always been a time “to give something up” but it can also be a time for “taking something up” doing something extra. Maybe attend a weekday Mass or even visit the church for some quiet time of prayer and reflection. The goal of these spiritual disciplines is to strengthen the faith of the observer and develop a closer relationship with God.
On Ash Wednesday As a reminder of our need for penitence we receive the sign of the cross in ashes on our foreheads. Hence the name Ash Wednesday. The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are the ashes from the Blessed Palms from the previous year. The palms are burnt to produce the ashes. Ashes are considered sacramental and are blessed before they are used.
This year Pope Francis has asked for Ash Wednesday to be a day of fasting for Peace. This is particularly needed as we are see countries in the grips of war.