Christians in the early church, those whose doctrine included the life and example of Jesus, that of his birth, his manhood, his passion, his crucifixion, death and burial and his resurrection and ascension, Lent is an important part of their faith and practice.
This season of Lent provides a time in which believers of the faith prepare for baptism. It is also a time when those who are separated from the body of the faithful because of serious sins, are reconciled by penitence and forgiveness and are restored in the fellowship of the Church. All these and many more do begin on Ash Wednesday.
On Ash Wednesday, believers are receiving the imposition of ashes on their foreheads, as a reminder that from the dust they were created and to dust they shall return.
On the imposition of the ashes on believers’ foreheads, the priest shall say any of the following” REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST, AND TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN” or “TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND BE FAITHFUL TO CHRIST”.
Lent is a time of renewal and growth and in order to experience this renewal and growth in our relationship with God and his Son Jesus Christ, let us begin this season on Lent by remembering our need for repentance and for the forgiveness of God, as proclaimed by the Gospels.
To make a right beginning of repentance, we need to look at ourselves and see where we stand in our faith, and to feel sorry for our sins and mistakes and ask for God’s forgiveness through the act of Confession.
Confession in its simple term, means the humble act of admission of our own wrongs and our willingness to tell them to God, believing that God will have mercy on us and set us free. Most importantly however, when we confess our sins, we should NOT return to them again or commit any more new sins, but truly repent.
Repentance, means turning our backs on our past and with the help of God and His Son Jesus Christ, we look forward to a better, brighter and lighter future in the body of Christ, the Church.
If you are to remember, a song by a British Pop Singer …..Titled “Travelling Light” … this is the meaning of Lent.
At Lent, we are expected to travel light, chipping off any loads that are not necessary that we should continue to shoulder.
We reduce the bad and retain and improve on the good. We live by the examples of Christ, that of peace, humility and holiness, so that our burdens may be light and our loads become easy to carry. At this Lenten Season too, we remember our faults (if any), which we may have against each other and one another and learn to remember that all have sinned and come short of the glory God, for no one is perfect in the eyes of God.
It is my humble plea to those who understand and observe this Lenten Season to carry out a self-examination exercise into their own lives and to seek for repentance by prayer, fasting, self-denial, and giving to those in need, and by reading and meditating on the world of God.
That is a brief overview of Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of the Lenten Season, which we will soon enter.
By Fr Freda P. Seda