The ashes symbolize both death and repentance. God has given us a way out of our plight of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” It is the way of the cross. The death of Jesus was God’s way of placing a sign of infinite value upon that which would otherwise be worthless.
The Alleluia comes to us from Hebrew, and it means “praise Yahweh.” Traditionally, it has been seen as the chief term of praise of the choirs of angels, as they worship around the throne of God in Heaven. ‘Alleluia’ is an apt expression in the context of what we celebrate during Easter – it is simply to praise the lord for his triumph over death.
We move from death at the time of Ash Wednesday to a focus of life and hope at Easter 47 days later.