Hundreds of Roman Catholics and Anglicans throughout the Grand Bahama community attended 2017 Ash Wednesday Observance Masses at Mary, Star of the Sea Church and the Pro-Cathedral of Christ the King Church to mark the beginning of Christian Lenten Season.
Considered one of the most popular and important Holy Days in the liturgical calendar, Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday and is a season of fasting, prayer, penance and alms giving.
A priest applies ashes to parishioners’ forehead and encourages those accepting the symbolic marking to remember that they are dust, and to dust they shall return, hence they must repent and believe in the Gospel.
The Freeport News team spoke with Fr. O. J. Ferguson, Mary, Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church regarding the significance of the Ash Wednesday Observance; he stated, “This Holy Observance marks the 40 days Christ Jesus spent in the desert praying, contemplating and preparing Himself for ministry.
“So as we begin our Lenten journey, which starts with Ash Wednesday whereby, we use ashes made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year.
“The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts.
“His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during this season and we encourage as well as welcome non-Christians and the excommunicated to receive the ashes and enter a renewed spiritual relationship with Christ Jesus.
“Indeed the Lenten Season is a time of penance, alms giving and prayer and helps us to get away from ourselves as well as our egos, reflecting deeply on Christ and conform ourselves to Him by denying ourselves with self-restraint.
“Typically, we give up things we love, enjoy and overindulge in, inclusive of drinking, smoking, eating our favorite foods, giving up meat, watching television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, using cellphones and other things that can cause a separation between us and God.
“Relying on Christ and Him alone must be our main objective particularly during this time.”
Hopeful that the self-denial and self-restraint exercised by devout Catholics and Anglicans helps them to draw nigh to Christ Jesus, building a stronger, personal relationship with Him, Fr. Ferguson said the observances during the Lenten Season teaches one temperance, moderation, as we overindulge.
Christians must learn to focus on Christ Jesus who is our ultimate provider and sustainer, hence Fr. Ferguson encourages all to live in moderation, creating balance while demonstrating that we do live in the world be are not a part of it throughout our own personal desert journey to Christ.
Published Thursday, March 2, 2017