Lagos - Catholics all over the world will on Feb. 13, mark this year’s Ash Wednesday, signifying the commencement of the 40-day Lenten season.
Msgr. Gabriel Osu, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, said this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
According to him “Ash Wednesday ushers in the Lenten Season.
``A forty-day period of penance, reflection and fasting prepares us for Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
``It is a period of conversion, self- denial, renewal, reconciliation, change and growth; it is about denying self for the life of others.”
He said that the hall mark of Ash Wednesday was the marking of the forehead of Catholic faithful with ashes, making the “sign of the cross” as a reminder of their sinful nature.
Osu said that in the Archdiocese of Lagos, the Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, would be expected to lead other clergies to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and administer ashes on the foreheads of the faithful.
``Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the church and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.
``The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year; christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense.
``The ashes symbolise penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts,” he said.
Osu urged Christians to take advantage of the season to draw nearer to God and seek His mercy and forgiveness.
``Christians are obliged to fast, pray and abstain from heavy meals and other bad habits as well as give alms,'' he said.