One can have ashes in the form of a cross on one’s forehead and yet the fasting of that person can be quite secret. Such a person may also smile and carry the joy of Christ within while going about daily activities.
Personally, I think that, in this present culture of death and hatred for Christians, it takes courage to wear that cross of ashes. Do some people do this to FLAUNT it, not having the proper spiritual attitude of the heart? Of COURSE, particularly some politicians these days, and some who claim to be Catholic but who have long forgotten how to really be Catholic. However, there are many Catholics who do so in great seriousness with their hearts fixed firmly on Jesus Christ.
This is a time when ALL serious Christians need to avoid criticizing one another. It further divides and weakens us as a witness to the world.
I can’t tell you just how many people have commented that “Christianity can’t be true...just look at all the division among Christians.” Perhaps that’s why Jesus prayed that we all be ONE (His last prayer before he ascended to the Father).
May the Triune God bless you and yours abundantly.
I don’t observe Lent because I see no biblical warrant for the practice, but as with paedobaptism, I can respect those who feel they should observe it. It’s certainly nothing that believers should fight over. I have good friends and a few cousins who observe it.