Lent – the holiest season, begins this coming week. How time flies! Time is a most precious gift, just as life is a precious gift, just as life is too. Our time is our life. Time gives us an opportunity to make changes within ourselves. So, we must make wise decisions when using time, and bring it to fulfillment and enjoyment, as we move on in our lives.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (26 February 2020) and as we enter solemnly into this season, we hope it will bring a change within us to repent, forgive and seek forgiveness. Lent is a gift to us to reflect on how we live and to find ways as to how we could love more fully, as Pope Francis said, “Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” As we go deeper into the 40 days of Lent, we may feel “spiritually drowsy” or “spiritually lethargic,” but we should focus and refocus our efforts at growing in virtue.
The season of Lent is quite a long period, the Church calls us to awaken and not to fall asleep like the foolish virgins who missed their chance to meet the Bridegroom (Mt 25:1-4). As we enter into Lent, we need to be “quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to rouse your temper,” (James 1:19). This text occurred on Wednesday of Week 6 in Ordinary Time and it touched me most.
- Quick to listen or hear – We should pay attention and listen to God’s voice every moment of the day during Lent. God may speak to us or tell us something we don’t like. He may also speak to us through a person whom we hate most. Perhaps, they have hurt us in a way that we have decided not to forgive.
- Slow to speak – We are invited once again to pray and meditate and to discern the right moment to open our mouths. At times we may have said something that we deeply regretted later.
- Slow to anger – In anger we are quick to judge and we jump to conclusions without giving others the benefit of doubt. Therefore, we must take the time to understand others before jumping to conclusions. When we are angry, we often use harmful words and hurt others, but we should be quick to make amends or rectify the wrong.
During Lent, we try our best to keep these thoughts in our minds and steadily improve ourselves, and embrace every opportunity to glorify God, save ourselves from evil and do good unto others.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia has agreed to set pastoral recommendations for Ash Wednesday on the instructions for imposition of Ashes in all parishes and mass centers.
- Priests and other extraordinary ministers tasked with the imposition of ashes should thoroughly wash and disinfect their hands prior to and immediately after the Imposition of Ashes.
- Following the long-established custom in Rome, ashes will be imposed by the minister by sprinkling dry ash on the crown of a person’s head (whilst saying one of the formulas prescribed in the missal). The previous local custom of drawing a cross on the forehead of a person, with moistened ash, is suspended.
- No holy water should be added to the ash before sprinkling dry ash on the crown of a person’s head.
Although Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation and the imposition of ashes is not mandatory, the archbishops and bishops would like to retain this practice even under the weight of the current crisis – COVID 19 (Wuhan Corona virus), provided that the above steps are taken to minimise the risk of infection.
We continue to pray for the current situation and also prepare ourselves for this holiest season of the Church year. Let us strive for the best Lent of our life.
The Archbishops and Bishops of the Conference, wish every faithful a Holy Lent.
by Rev. Fr. George P.