Commentary: The Significance Of Ash Wednesday

Commentary: The Significance Of Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday commences the Lenten season by focusing the heart of Christians on repentance and prayer, usually through personal and communal confession.

Observed in the seventh week before Easter, the occasion is marked with Holy Mass and Divine Service. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words of “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”.

Ashes are prepared by burning palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. On Palm Sunday, churches bless and handout palm branches to attendees, a reference to the Gospels’ account of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when onlookers lay palm branches on His path.

Ashes were used in ancient times to express grief, sorrow for sins and faults. The practice of using ashes is also an external sign of repentance, fasting, reflection and ultimately celebration.

During Mass or Worship Service, the priest will usually share a sermon that is penitential and reflective in nature. The mood is solemn and is characterized by a responsive passage of scripture.

However, after all the ceremonies, the congregation will be invited to receive the ashes on their foreheads which symbolizes death and repentance. Ashes are equivalent to Dust and human flesh is composed of dust and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash.

So, as we observe the Ash Wednesday with sober reflection, we should also bear in mind the mood of Anambra State and the nation. On March 17, 2022, Governor Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) will hand over the baton of leadership to Professor Chukwuma Soludo CFR (Dike Udo Isuofia); all happening in this solemn period of lent. This, no doubt, is a divine coincidence. While the State citizenry are warming up to welcome the new administration, we should not overlook the myriads of challenges hanging over the airspace of the nation.

Today, Nigeria is synonymous with insecurity, while ritual murder, kidnappings and other criminal tendencies are daily occurrences. This does not augur well for a country that prides itself as the policeman of Africa.

This time demands that the nation should come together and pray for peace. We should use the solemn occasion of Ash Wednesday to emphasize the things that bind us together and discard all areas of friction and political bigotry in order to emerge stronger as a nation.

The Ash Wednesday should also afford us a golden opportunity to pray for the success of the handover ceremony in Anambra State, as well as for the peace, unity, progress and development of Nigeria.

This will, no doubt, make Professor Soludo uplift the state to the status of Dubai or Japan of Africa. Anambra State is a bed of roses for industrialization. Ndi Anambra, including traditional rulers, the clergy and community leaders, should come together in prayers, fasting and unceasing supplications to God.

As we mark this year’s Ash Wednesday today, Ndi Anambra should remember the incoming administration in prayers. This is a season we should purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness.

Let us use this period to pray for a successful handover of government from Governor Willie Obiano to the incoming Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo and for an end to all societal ills in Nigeria. May God, continue to hear our prayers.

»Commentary: The Significance Of Ash Wednesday«

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