The black mark applied on the forehead implicates the crosses. They are a mixture of ashes, Holy Water and sometimes the olive oil. They remind the faithful about the mortality of humanity. It asks us to stay away from the clutches of worldliness and refocus on God. It indicates the individual’s desire for repentance and mourning for their own sins. When the priest apply ash on the forehead one ought to say, “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19) or “Repent, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The ashes used in the Mass would be from the palms used in the previous year’s Palm Sunady.