Rev. Fr Paul Jatau, of the Catholic Archdiocese of Port Harcourt, has called on Catholics all over the world to see the Lenten period as a time to reflect on their lives and make amends.
Jatau made the call on Wednesday in Abuja, during his homily to mark the ‘Ash Wednesday’ at 12 Apostles Catholic Church, Central Area.
Ash Wednesday is one of the most important and significant holy days in the churches calendar as it opens lent, a season of fasting and prayer which lasts 40 days.
The clergy said that there was no perfect being on earth hence everyone should make efforts daily to repent from committing bad deeds and forgive others.
He also urged Catholics to be more prayerful during the period, fast and make more effort to give alms to the less privileged.
“It is not only from food you can fast from, staying away from things you derive pleasure from and cannot do without like alcohol consumption, gossiping, fornication, adultery, telling lies and so on is also a form of fast.
“Fasting is a time to mortify the flesh because all desires come from the body. Let us take our prayer life seriously and repent from our bad ways.
“When you repent, you live according to the gospel values. Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return; the church calls us today to reflect on our nothingness.
“If you look at the time you spend in dressing and taking care of your body which will one day be eaten by termites but spend less time in service and worship of God what are we really planning for ourselves.
“Lent is a time to look inwards to see what mistakes you have made, reflect on your life and weaknesses and those things holding you back from living a good and Godly life.
“This season marks the beginning of a 40 day journey with God. No matter what material things you acquire in life and your level of education, when you die none of it will go with you except your good works.
“You must live everyday as if it is your last that is the only way you can truly prepare for life after death,” he said.
Jatau explained that the period of lent has been practised and observed in the church since the time of Jonah who in the bible told the people of Nineveh that God would destroy the city in 40 days if they did not repent of their sins.
The cleric urged Catholics to allow God use them to be blessings unto others around them by giving alms and sharing what they have with others.
Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday and is chiefly observed by Catholics although many other Christians are now known to observe it too.
The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God created man.
As the priest applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, he speaks the words: “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Easter Sunday is scheduled to be celebrated on April 21.