Mangaluru, Mar 01, 2017 : Ash Wednesday, today March 1, marked the start of traditional forty day Lenten season which will culminate on Easter Sunday. Faithful of the Roman Catholic church found their way too the various masses and devotions in all the churches in the region. This day is also marked all over the world.
Special masses were celebrated in the morning and evening and the blessed ash was imposed on the heads of the faithful soon after the reading of the gospel and exhortation to turn away from sin and evil to a path of salvation in Christ. The words that were said "Dust thou art and to dust thou shall return" sums up the uncertainty of this human life on earth and calls all to be on the right and good path.
The season of Lent:
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (today) and ends on Easter Sunday. It is a journey of 40 days in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert where the devil tempted Him. The importance of the ash placed by the priest in the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the recipient has a deep significance.
As he places the ash, he says, "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return". This reminds us of the brevity of earthly life and the inevitability of death.
Although nowadays, fasting and abstinence are compulsory only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, Christians are encouraged during this season to perform some kind of penance in atonement for sins committed. The final week of Lent is called Holy Week and is the most sacred liturgical period in the Church’s year, when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and his triumphant Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The history of Lent dates back to centuries ago with Christians spending time preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word which means to lengthen and Lent comes at a time when the hours of daylight are lengthening as Spring approaches.
Even though we are not compelled to fast and abstain, we are encouraged to think of our less fortunate brothers and to give what we have in excess to the marginalised in our society. It is a time when we can think of what we are doing personally to help those suffering from famine in Sudan and many other parts of the developing world. We can also think of the plight of refugees.
Why did Jesus submit to the crucifixion when he could have saved the sinful man by just one word?
He realised that his ignominious death on the Cross, while he uttered words of forgiveness, was the only way we would understand how much he loves us.
His triumph over death is a reminder that it is our duty to care for the welfare of our less fortunate brothers: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Jesus - The Sermon on the Mount).