For Catholics, Ash Wednesday is not only a Holy Day of Obligation, it also signals the start of the Lenten Season. For many Filipinos, it also hints the start of the summer heat. We have been blessed that a nearby office which hosted a mass welcomed us to join in the ceremony, I do not have to leave work early anymore. Below are my key takeaways from today’s mass which also jumpstart my Lenten Reflection Series for this year. I know I’ve done a similar series a few years back and I am doing it again this time.
Every Ash Wednesday we are reminded that:
- Ash is where we came from, ash is to where we belong and to ash we shall return. Personally, ash reminds me too how Jesus died innocently, out of pure and unconditional love for mankind. Ash reminds me that I will also die someday and no material wealth (money, gold, and gadgets) could be brought into the next life. Material wealth shall return to dust as well. REFLECTION: ARE YOU READY TO GO BACK TO ASHES? HOW DO YOU INTEND TO PREPARE FOR THAT DAY?
- Fasting and abstinence are soul foods. We are reminded to do these with joy in our hearts and faces. We are reminded of how we can effectively fast or abstain. They cover not only meals or meats but mainly what is most important to us. They aim to instill the discipline of sacrificing with joy and realizing what we deem important is not so important as compared to pleasing God. They aim to make spaces for our spiritual growth. It’s not always the flesh that we need to satisfy, we have spirits and souls to feed too. REFLECTION: DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF FASTING AND ABSTINENCE? HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DO THEM THIS YEAR?
- Giving is our duty as children of God. Give blessings to others, not only in the form of money but also of time, compassion and prayers and not only to the poor but also to the sick, heartbroken, neglected, rejected, lonely and alone. Many rich people need spiritual blessings too. REFLECTION: DO YOU KNOW THAT THE ONLY TIME WE NEED TO STOP GIVING IS WHEN GOD STOPS GIVING TO US? HOW DO YOU GIVE TO OTHERS? WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITS? OR, SHOULD THERE BE A LIMIT?
- Praying is the love language of God. It is through prayer that we can talk and make a connection to Him. I’ve been thinking of how I can pray more. When I was in college, I was more prayerful but I miss Sunday masses. In times of failures, I also pray a lot but I go back to my old habits once the situation is back to normal. When I married, I’ve never missed Sunday and holy obligation masses but I miss my daily, morning or night and sometimes even both prayers. If there is one thing I need to focus on for my spiritual journey, this would be it. How to pray more? I don’t want to wait for another hardship before I kneel back down to God. REFLECTION: DO YOU PRAY ENOUGH? HOW CAN WE PRAY MORE?
The priest ended the ceremony with a statement that goes like this —celebrate the Lent with a Godly-joy in your hearts. You need not frown or be sad for you have been saved, so, rejoice and proclaim the glory of God.
I also plan to restart my self-resolution to always pray for the person in front of me in the church. Just like what the priest said in his homily, always shoot a prayer to the person/s next to you. God wants you to pray not just for yourself but for others as well.
Ending this post my beloved readers with a sincere prayer for you all — that you may have a meaningful Lenten Season ahead.