I am a product of catholic school and a catholic faith upbringing...but...the older I get, the harder it is to remember why we do what we do, when we do it! That said, its Ash Wednesday, and I couldn't explain to my nine-year-old daughter for the life of me what its all about. So I did my research, and refreshed this old forty-year-old brain. Maybe you need a refresher as well...

4 Things To Know About Ash Wednesday:

#1 - Ash Wednesday is the day that Lent begins.The name comes from the fact that a particular rite is always celebrated on this Wednesday in which the faithful have ashes put on their foreheads. According to the Roman Missal: In the course of today’s Mass, ashes are blessed and distributed. These are made from the olive branches or branches of other trees that were blessed the previous year [on Palm/Passion Sunday].

#2 - In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which are used in the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday.The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance.The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.

#3 - The Roman Missal states that after the homily, the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water.Then the priest places ashes on the head of all those present who come to him.

#4 - In most English-speaking countries the prevailing custom seems to be that the priest places enough holy water into the ashes to form a kind of paste. The ashes are then daubed in the form of a cross on the forehead. Many Catholics see this practice as a means of publicly showing their faith and leave the smudge on their forehead throughout Ash Wednesday.

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Thankfully the National Catholic Register had all the info I needed this morning for my post.