Vanguard (Lagos)

12 February 2013

Nigeria: Catholics Mark Ash Wednesday

CATHOLICS all over the world will tomorrow (Wednesday) mark this year's Ash Wednesday, signifying the commencement of the 40-day Lenten Season.

According to Msgr. Gabriel Osu, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, "Ash Wednesday ushers in the Lenten Season, a 40-day period of penance, reflection and fasting which prepares us for Christ's resurrection on Easter Sunday.

It is a period of conversion, self denial, renewal, reconciliation, change and growth; it is about denying self for the life of others."

The hallmark of Ash Wednesday, Osu said, is the marking of the forehead of Catholic faithful with ashes, making the "sign of the cross" as a reminder of their sinful nature.

In the Lagos archdiocese, the Metropolitan, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, is expected to lead other clergies to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and administer ashes on the foreheads of the faithful.

"Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the church and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice".

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year; christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense".

The ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts," he said.

Osu urged Christians to take advantage of the season to draw nearer to God and seek for His mercy and forgiveness, adding that Christians are obliged to "fast, pray and abstain from heavy meals and other bad habits, as well as give alms.

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