March 06, 2019 ~ St. Peregrine Laziosi Diocesan Shrine/ Jasper Christian Gambito. Lent had begun. Catholics worldwide are well aware of the Ash Wednesday as one of the most popular holy days in the liturgical calendar as it marks the start of the Lenten season. At the St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish/ Diocesan Shrine, there are four (4) scheduled masses: 6:00 in the morning, 12:00 in noon time, and 6:30 and 8:00 in the evening.

Ash Wednesday is an inherited tradition from the Jews. Ashes spread in the body signify contrition and repentance to sins committed against God – a mark which shows how truly sorry a faithful is. The ash imposed in the forehead of the faithful does not signify that he is holy, but rather an acceptance that he is a sinner and he needs God to save him from sin. In his homily, Rev. Fr. Leonard Ma. Guiang OSM reminds the faithful on the three (3) pillars of Lent, namely Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. These three pillars were done in order to condition spiritual life. This spiritual preparation requires the faithful to be truly sorry for the sins they had committed against God because the good Lord hears the cry of a contrite heart and not of the proud. These three pillars remind the faithful that they are not only material beings but are also spiritual beings. As food brings strength and nourishment to the physical body of the faithful, observing the pillars would enable them to nourish and strengthen their spiritual well-being.  However, the Lord challenges the faithful that in doing the three pillars, they must do it in secret for it is clear in the Holy Scriptures that God reserves a reward to those who would do these works in secrecy. In other words, if a faithful would help his brother, he should do it in secret. If he would pray, he should do it in secret. If he fast and abstain, he should do it in secret. If he give alms to others, he should do it in secret. In doing so, he is accumulating his rewards in heaven. The faithful must be reminded that what’s more important is the praise which God would give to them in heaven, rather than the praise of people here on earth.

Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season challenges the Catholic faithful to be truly sorry for the offenses they made against God because of the sins committed every now and then. Lenten season also gives them the time to make appropriate sacrifices and penance as part of their reparation to God so that in the end, they could be reconciled to the God’s love and friendship.