Written by on February 22, 2023

Today is Ash Wednesday. often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent 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 in different churches. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful with the words “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 the 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.

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

The Ash Wednesday should also afford us the golden opportunity to pray for the successful conduct of this month’s elections, as well as for the peace, unity, progress and development of Nigeria.

Ndi Anambra, including traditional rulers, the clergy and community leaders, should come together in prayers, fasting and unceasing supplications to God, especially for the success of the Presidential, National Assembly, Governorship and House of Assembly elections.

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