It Is Not An Easy Road, But Jesus Walks Besides Us. Courage!
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
This week the major feast according to the Church’s liturgical calendar is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the Lenten season of the Church’s Liturgical Year. According to the Church’s teaching, the weekdays of Lent from Ash Wednesday to Saturday before Palm Sunday take precedence over the memorial of saints. This goes to highlight the significance of this feast. As we know very well it not just another opportunity to fulfill one of those obligations that the Church has imposed on us during this period of the year. Rather, it is truly the beginning of the re-living or re-enacting of the experience of the entire Paschal Mystery of Christ.
On Ash Wednesday, our foreheads are marked with ashes to humble our hearts and remind us that life passes away on Earth. We remember this when we are told 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. We allow ourselves of our own accord to bear the ash on our forehead as a sign that we are ready to follow Christ as he walks the rough path. We bear the ash which though a sign of shame and defeat at the same time signifies for us true Christians the beginning of our Salvation. We bear the ash which though a sign of death is for all true Christians a sure hope that we shall rise with Christ.
Lent does not begin and end with Ash Wednesday as many of us suppose or portray by simply rushing to the church either in the morning or evening of the Wednesday to have the ash placed on their forehead and disappear, only to re-appear perhaps again (if at all they do), during the Easter Vigil Mass. No, this is not the right way to follow Christ this season. It involves periods of fasting especially, on Fridays; abstinence; attending liturgical functions especially, Stations of the Cross; taking good advantage of the sacraments especially, the sacraments of reconciliation and reflection which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. To do this requires discipline, courage, perseverance, faith and tranquility of mind. Let us remember the trustworthy saying that: If we die with him, we will also live with him (2Tim.2, 11).
Peace be with you!