Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is about 40 days before Easter. Ash Wednesday also serves as a sign for us Catholics and Christians that we are ready to repent, to be humble and to renounce pride. I’m no expert when it comes to CLE as I have a terrible memory, but I got a better understanding of what Ash Wednesday is about when I attend mass at my local parish two days ago. The ashes traditionally comes from the burned palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. We, Catholics and other Christians are marked with ashes on our foreheads, while the priest or lay minister says, “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
For someone who goes to church every Sunday and prays intently every morning, night and even while stuck in traffic, I am still far form being a “perfect Catholic” or a devout parishioner and I don’t even I try to be one. I don’t remember all the bible stories, the passages nor the events in between Lent and Christmas. So don’t be too quick to judge that I’m trying to be all religious because I cringe at the thought of it. All I know is that I pray to talk to God, I go to church to seek enlightenment and to give thanks. But what really got me inspired to write this post is the priest’s homily. It wasn’t long nor boring, despite him reading it from his notes.
“One must not need to boast he is faithful, for what others don’t see, God sees.”
I have come to understand this as a truth. We sometimes are too consumed about being acknowledged for the good we do, the kindness we exude and even the love we give that sometimes it doesn’t come as out as freely and whole-hearltedly as it should, because we want recognition in return. When the truth is, in the end everything that we own wouldn’t matter but rather, what we made others feel and what we have imparted would. What others don’t see, God sees.
It’s a nice way to be reminded especially when one feels caught up with the idea that recognition is a must. It’s not really. It’s just the icing on the cake. This plus the three key things that my parish priest emphasized, that one must do in the beginning of the season of Lent: Give. Pray. Fast.
What we all have is a gift from God. That whatever we have must be constantly circulated along with what other people have. That is the concept of giving. We give not because we want to be noticed or acknowledged for the effort of giving. Rather, we give because we can. Give alms, give love, give something that you know you have but you’d happily share it with somebody else. Sure it is easy to give especially if you have more than what you need and want, but try giving even if you don’t have enough for yourself, then you’ll realize it is challenging. But as soon as you know you can, you’ll know deep in your heart that you have learned how to give whole heartedly without expecting anything in return.
The most powerful thing you can do is to pray. Praying strengthens one’s faith and it can make one believe that nothing is impossible. It is our way of believing there is a divine being, guiding us and watching over us. It is an invocation to seek direction and advice from a higher entity. Prayer doesn’t change God rather, it changes us.
Fasting is a powerful spiritual disciple that is done alongside praying. It is primarily an act of willing abstinence. It is an act of reducing or giving up something that we are so used to having. Abstinence from meat during all Fridays of Lent is one way of fasting. But you can have your own way of fasting, as long as you give up something you know won’t be easy to give up. After all, fasting is about turning away from our desires, our wants.
As for me, I am really determined to fulfill my Lenten sacrifice. Starting today, I have given up eating chocolates until the end of Lent. It may seem as if it isn’t a sacrifice at all but it seriously is for me. I eat chocolates every single day and giving it up for 40 days is something I’m not sure I can really do. But I have faith in myself that I can get through and that I can pacify my desire. After all, God sacrificed his one and only son for me, why wouldn’t I give up chocolates for him?
Don’t feel pressured about fasting just because most of the people you know are doing so. Do it because you really want to.The Lenten season really is the time to reflect and bow our heads, to be grateful and thankful that a lone man sacrificed himself in order for us to live. Remember, give, pray and fast to express and not to impress.
Bye chocolates. I’ll see you end of April. I. Can. Do. This.
Do you have any Lenten sacrifice you want to share?