* It’s a period of self reflection—Fr. Edogbo
Ash Wednesday is a sign of mourning, not fashion—Fr. Odigbo
As Christians join their counterpart all over the world to observe this year’s Lenten season, President Muhammadu Buhari, has urged them to pray fervently for the country.
Buhari felicitated with Christians in Nigeria on the solemn occasion of the commencement of this year’s Lenten season yesterday with Ash Wednesday.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in Abuja, yesterday, the president expressed his belief that Nigeria’s existence as one united country is a divine arrangement and nothing should be done to divide it.
The statement said: “As they join their counterparts worldwide to emulate the worthy example of Jesus Christ who fasted 40 days at the beginning of his earthly ministry, the president urges Christian brothers and sisters to pray fervently for the country’s unity and progress.
“He believes that Nigeria’s existence as one united country is a divine arrangement and nothing should be done to put it asunder.”
The president enjoined all Nigerians to intensify love, brotherliness and concern for the less privileged members of their communities in order to strengthen the bond of togetherness.
“As Christians begin the period of increased prayers, piety, sacrifice and selfless services, the president wishes them and all Nigerians well,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Parish Priest, St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Igbogila, Ayobo, Lagos, Rev. Fr. Andrew Edogbo, has described Lent as a season that gives opportunity for reflection over life’s activities, relationship with God and called for repentance.
Fr. Edogbo, who made the declaration yesterday during a homily to mark the Ash Wednesday celebration, said the distribution of ashes shows the weakness inherent in a human being.
The cleric stressed that as human beings the weakness in us often results into committing sins which makes Ash Wednesday a period for men to return to God who helps us overcome weaknesses.
According to him, “Ash Wednesday means the judgement of God which reminds us of our death. When we are given the ashes we say you are dust and unto dust you will return that is the judgement to come.
“We are reminded that each and everyone shall stand before the throne of God to give an account of our lives on earth. The distribution of ashes reminds us of the urgency in the call to repentance as Saint Paul said now is the acceptable time because no one knows tomorrow,” he admonished.
He reminded Christians that Ash Wednesday cum Lenten period is not a time for social events, but for spiritual commitment which calls for turning away from sins, a sign for salvation, repentance and living a holy life.
On Ash Wednesday coinciding with Valentine’s Day, he called on Nigerians to show Godly love by giving alms to the less privileged and poor in the society rather than committing atrocities in the name of celebrating Valentine’s Day.
“Unfortunately, the Lenten season which starts with Ash Wednesday coincided with the popular valentine’s day. Most people take the celebration of the world more seriously than things pertaining to God. I now ask what do we celebrate in Valentine? Why is it difficult for us to use the period of Valentine to celebrate God who is love by giving alms and showing love to the less privileged except people have other motives,” the cleric stated.
Similarly, the Parish Priest of Christ the King Catholic Parish, Kurudu, Abuja, Rev. Fr. Francis Odigbo, OCD, urged parishioners to see Ash Wednesday as a moment of mourning and not to use it as a fashion display.
During the homily, yesterday, Fr. Odigbo stressed that the Lenten season offers Christians the opportunity to reconcile with their God.
“Ash Wednesday is a period of mourning. It is not a period or a moment of fashion show. Many of us take it to be fashion and that is why today’s mass has more people than any other day of the week, apart from Sundays. Why, because many people are just coming to have the ashes on their foreheads. They don’t even know what it means. Immediately they receive the ashes, they will snap it and post it on social media for their friends to see that they have participated in the fashion”