26 February 2004

---Ash Wednesday Version

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season and is a prominent celebration among Catholics in the Philippines. The religious tradition dates back to the earliest days of the church when Christians often spent Saturday night in prayer. After some time, the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. proposed a 40-day period of fasting and spiritual preparation which became a model for the entire Christian church.

I went to a nearby church to hear mass and participate in the imposition of ashes which takes place after the priest's homily. The church was jampacked but I noticed that people left after they received the ashes in their foreheads.

So the hype was all about the ashes, after all. Get your ash, get out of the church, and flaunt it. Let everyone know you got ash on your forehead.

The Pope describes the Imposition of Ashes as an "austere penitential gesture." It underlines man's awareness of himself as sinner before the majesty and holiness of God.It also promotes the deep meaning of Christian ascetism: one must reduce the baggage to the essential so as not to be weighed down on the journey; to be ready to face any difficulty and to overcome all obstacles to reach the desired objective. The Pope further adds that "this necessarily entails sacrifices and renunciations; it is necessary to deny oneself, to take up one's cross every day, and to follow Him." The whole 40-day Lenten season is an arduous path of holiness, which every baptized person is called to follow.

For the people who walked out of the church immediately after getting their ashes, I thing something was lost in translation.

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