Last Sunday, we had our Shrove Tuesday feast on Social Sunday which means we had our pancakes with big juicy Northern strawberries fresh from Jos and many toppings including caramel and whipped cream! We also had fried chicken because what’s a YCN gathering without it? More importantly, we got the chance to contemplate on the significance of Ash Wednesday with a video by Ascension Presents featuring internationally renowned Father Mike Schmitz. We called to mind the following:
The significance of Ash
Do you find yourself going on Instagram right after mass to #hashyourash because all the cool Catholic youths are doing it in your parish or do you really take out time to dwell on the significance of Ash Wednesday? It’s great to share the fact that we have received ash as it may spark up people’s interest but we should know that ash was historically given to mark a low or turning point in someone’s life. It was a sign of a commitment to change some things about the person’s life or face an unfortunate downward spiral as a result of life choices. It ultimately meant that there was something to repent of.
As humans, we can either be numb to sin or come to realise that we have done something wrong prompting us to live other lives. The ashes are placed on our foreheads in the shape of the cross to show that we are not as we should be, and that even with our bad choices and broken heart, Jesus Christ is here for us.
“Remember that you are dust, to dust you shall return”
Father Mike further explains that “Jesus claimed your heart but also your sin”. Since God has a plan for everyone’s life, the cross further signifies that He can make us into who He believes we should be.
Preparing for Lent
In a nutshell, during Lent (40 days) to transform ourselves, we make use of prayer, fasting and almsgiving; our two major fast days are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. When we repent of our sins, we need four things: reflection, prayer, sacrifice and penance.
We must also ask ourselves in what ways we should change; it may be by engaging in activities that actually help our thought process and getting closer to Jesus.
Fasting doesn’t always have to do with food but with internal action or obsessions so in this way, we can choose to purify our lives from things that are keeping us from the Lord. Similarly, almsgiving may materialise in different ways by doing good to someone and not necessarily financially enhancing them.
Closing Notes from Father Tony Njuigi
Father Tony drew reference to Prophet Jonah as the only Prophet to say no to God at first before succumbing to His will. This is a prime example that we may experience difficulty in abandoning ourselves in God’s hands or even changing an opinion about something in life. It’s a time to put more trust in God and admit that we can’t be the Lord of our lives as much as we think we may have control over it. There’s definitely something to gain from this experience as we ponder on what we are giving up and taking up for Lent.
Remember, every bad practice needs a replacement; it will be awesome to say that because of Lent 2018, I stopped doing X and I now do Y.
Will you join us at our next session?