February is also a month that leads us into the special season of Lent, a season in which we are called to deepen our relationship with God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. With Ash Wednesday on 17th February, 2021, the Church ushers us all into the solemn Season of Lent when we experience the profound call to repentance and spiritual renewal.
A Few Thoughts on Lent:
As we begin the season of lent, may I remind you all of the following regarding the season:
All the faithful who have reached 14 years of age and above are required to abstain totally from meat or favourite dish or drink on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as all the Fridays of Lent.
All the faithful between the ages of 18 and 60 years are obliged to fast. In practice, fasting involves limiting oneself to a single full meal or two smaller meals a day.Those who are sick, pregnant or nursing or whose health would adversely be affected by fasting should not consider themselves bound by this norm.
Role of Parents and Teachers:
Parents and teachers are responsible for helping young persons, who are not bound by the norms regarding fasting and abstinence to recognize the genuine values in penance and self-denial. We are also required to pray fervently for the catechumens who will receive the Sacraments of Initiation during this period.
Other ways to observe lent
We can observe Lent in the following under-listed ways so as to benefit from the graces of the season:
Keep yourself away from all occasions that could lead to sin. Repent and return to God by a good sacramental confession and do appropriate penance if you fall into sin.
Be more generous especially in giving to the poor and needy and in contributing to the works of the Church and payment of just wages.
Pursue and achieve reconciliation with anyone with whom you are not at peace.
Read your Bible faithfully:
Read the Scriptures in order to deepen your intimacy with God, spread the kingdom of Christ and help others to know and return to Christ.
Pray the more:
Pray before the Blessed Sacrament, go to Mass often, if possible, daily.
Attend Stations of the Cross:
Be regular at the Stations of the Cross on Wednesdays and Fridays and do it every day if you can
Participate in Lenten programmes:
Take part in the Lenten programmes and retreats that will be organised in your parish. Take full part in the Holy week ceremonies. Pray your Rosary daily. Bear in mind that all other Fridays of the year remain Days of penance in prayerful remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ.
Vatican gives Directives for the Distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday
Given the current Covid-19 pandemic which is affecting the world, the Holy See through the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of Sacraments, has laid out procedures for priests to follow for the distribution of Ashes on Ash Wednesday.
According to the directives, after blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with Holy water in silence, the Priest addresses those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. Then, the priest “cleanses his hands, puts on a face mask, and distributes ashes to those who come to him or, if appropriate, he goes to those who are standing in their places.” He then sprinkles the ashes on each person’s head “without saying anything.” All priests are to ensure that the above directive is adhered to, strictly
• Most. Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos