Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Posted by Unstoppable Spirit
Ash Wednesday is derived from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burnt. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead, and then on those of assembly. The minister recites the words: "Remember ( O man) that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or " Repent, and believe the Gospel."
The gospel of Ash Wednesday sets the tone of the Lenten Season. In the gospel, we hear Jesus talk about the so-called "three legs" of Lent" namely, Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. The faithful is encouraged to intensify their prayer life. We, the Church, are called to enter into our own forty-day retreat to encounter our God. During these days of prayer, we are invited to look at our own lives to re-evaluate our relationship with God and with one another. As part of prayer, the faithful is encouraged to pray such Lenten devotions as stations of the cross, taize (prayer around the cross), and the daily reflection of the Sacred Scripture. Since it is period of preparation for Easter, the faithful is also called to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Fasting is an important aspect of Lent. Traditionally, all of us are invited to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (that is to eat only ONE full meal). We are also asked to abstain from meat on all Fridays of Lent. However, fasting does not only pertain to food. We might want to fast from the things that inhibit us from growing in our relationship with God and with one another. Fasting would draw us closer to God.
Almsgiving is often associated with monetary donations, but that is only one of its facets. Remember, almsgiving is an act of charity. Almsgiving can be done in different ways. How? Maybe by helping in our Community Ministry by feeding the hungry, the poor, and the homeless? Maybe by being nice to one another? Maybe by being polite while we are driving? Maybe by reconciling with someone with whom we haven't talked to for a long time? Maybe by visiting the sick members of our family and this faith community? Indeed, there are countless ways we can practice almsgiving during the holy season of Lent.
As we enter Lent on Wednesday, I invite each one of us to look at our own lives. What part of our lives needs change? How about our prayer life? Are we spending ample time in communication with God? Let us remember, Lent is given to us as a time of preparation and reflection. This is a time for us to grow and mature in our faith. This is not a time of somber preparation, but a blissful season to encounter our God.
Finally, I also invite each one of us to include our catechumens and candidates, those who are about to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation, in our prayers. Let us continue to journey with them as they enter their final stage of preparation to the Easter Waters of Baptism.
Labels: Lent ·