So this guy I know asked a simple question. However his tone suggested scorn: "Do you think that receiving ashes will save your soul?"
Well the truth is no. Ashes are sacramental.
Sacramentals are signs instituted by the church to help us in our spiritual life. Lent is about repentance. Ashes are about repentance.
Every year I end up dealing with someone who has no idea what's going on. "Aye Man! You have something black on your forehead."
"Yes Dude! It's Ashes. Today is Ash Wednesday."... In my mind I keep thinking "Humility, humility, humility!" while the other voice in my head wants to say... "what rock are you living under? Today is ASH WEDNESDAY... ashes on my head.. ash wednesday.. make the link."
I think that keeping the ashes on and trying to use the discussion that it brings as a teaching opportunity is a great idea... and so I do, even though I will never change the mind of the haters who react angrily to anything Catholic.