Moodubelle: Ash Wednesday observed in a mood of repentance and prayer

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Report by Eugene and Anil Moodubelle
Pictures by Anil Alva
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 17 February 2010: Ash Wednesday, the first day of the forty days long season of the Lent was observed all over the world on 17th February 2010. In St. Lawrence Church, Moodubelle, the Ash Wednesday Mass was offered by Fr.Arun Mendonca at 4.15 pm. Before the commencement of the Mass, the priests and lay Eucharistic Ministers applied ash with the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the school and college students as well as the parishioners who were present in large numbers. As the Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lent, the faithful were in a mood of repentance and prayer.

The forty day long Lent begins with the Ash Wednesday. It is observed forty days before the Good Friday. Actually, ‘Ash Wednesday’ is its colloquial name. Its official name is the ‘Day of Ashes’. It is called Ash Wednesday because, being forty days before the Good Friday, it always falls on a Wednesday and has been called Ash Wednesday as on this day faithful attend Masses and have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.

The priest who makes the sign of the Cross with the ashes on the forehead of the faithful says, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or "Repent, and believe the Gospel." It is important to note that ashes are a symbol of man’s mortality and represent an attitude of humility, sorrow, and repentance. The ashes used in this ritual are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.

Ash Wednesday is one of the important holy days for the Western Church. It marks the beginning of a season of fasting and repentance in preparation for the Easter celebration. On Ash Wednesday, Christians come before a priest to receive the sign of the cross marked in ashes on their foreheads. Over the next month, they are encouraged to fast, pray, and seek repentance for their sins. This ritual of Ash Wednesday had its origin around the eighth century and extends back to the custom during Biblical times of people humbling themselves wearing sackcloth and applying ashes on their forehead and body as a mark of repentance and penance.

In an old Ash Wednesday tradition, penitents who had committed serious sins would come to the church wearing sack cloth. The priest would bless them and sprinkle ashes over them while they recited the Seven Penitential Psalms. The penitents would do penance for absolving their sins and seek forgiveness. Later, they would return on Maundy Thursday and receive Communion from the priest.

The Lenten season has been considered as a period of fasting, penance and prayers. Fast and abstinence has been an integral part of the season of Lent. However, with the passage of time there has been considerable relaxation in the practice, especially in the Roman Catholic Church. Among the Catholics, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, those who are between the ages of 18 and 59 are advised to fast by consuming only one full meal and practice abstinence. The Church has not imposed on the Catholics any specific rules and regulations regarding abstinence. However, a person is encouraged to abstain from at least one pleasure-giving activity. Generally, people choose to abstain from certain kinds of diet such as non-vegetarian food, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. However, there are many Christians voluntarily undertake a complete or partial fast on the days of their choice, usually on Fridays.

Fasting and abstinence is recommended by all religions in some form or the other as it is believed that such practices help a person to grow spiritually. Besides, it also strengthens the will power and builds character of a person. It is also said that if a person habitually fasts, he or she may not easily become a victim of temptations and sins.

The forty days long Lenten season is a spiritual preparation for the great feast of Easter, in which the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his Crucifixion on Good Friday is being solemnly celebrated.


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Comments on this Article
Alban D souza, Kunthal nagar Tue, February-23-2010, 7:48
May the sufferings of Jesus,lead us to live a better life and let us do something for his sake as he suffers for our sins..Have a blessed LENT season to all
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