Celebrating the season of Lent with NSU's Catholic LIFE

Kelvin Reese
February 14, 2018

A woman receives ashes at Saint Patrick's Cathedral on Ash Wednesday in NY, U.S., February 13, 2013. They do not have to be kept for the duration of Ash Wednesday.

This April, millions of Christians all around the world will celebrate Easter, the holiest day in Christianity.

Although Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation for Catholics (a day when they're obligated to attend Mass) many begin Lent by attending church and getting the sign of the cross smudged on their foreheads with ashes. "Let us fill Valentine's Day with the Lenten spirit", said Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas in a Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post.

"We're very much into the senses - all five senses are involved in our services", he said.

"Valentine's Day can appropriately be celebrated on another day, such as Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which happens to be Mardi Gras, a time of celebration prior to the Lenten journey".

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So, couples might be out on a dinner and church date on Wednesday with what looks like dirt on their faces.

Christians will face a similar holiday overlap again in a few weeks' time, when April Fool's Day and Easter both fall on April 1. They are supposed to fast, pray and shun meat these days. The idea was that you would sacrifice the time and the energy that went into finding, preparing, eating and cleaning up food, and instead you would use that time to talk to God.

Catholics aged 18 to 60 are obliged to fast or to eat less on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday which is March 30 this year.

On Ash Wednesday, Warne stands out on Ellsworth Road offering ashes-to-go for commuters. "Even if our failures and faults dirtied our souls, with the retracing of the cross on our foreheads, Jesus reminds us we can rebuild our lives, be reconciled with the Father, and be redeemed by Jesus Himself", he added.

Our observance of Lent is 40 days in length and ends on Holy Saturday, the day after the Good Friday remembrance of Jesus's brutal death on the cross. The practice has changed over the years, and if a person decides to give up something for Lent it is most often a "guilty pleasure" such as chocolate, sweets, or alcohol. During this season it is common to hear talk of what others will be giving up for Lent.

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