Lent kicks off with Ash Wednesday

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CHURCH leaders said Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the Lenten season, should be viewed as an opportunity for spiritual renewal and prayers.

“(This season) should make us aware we are loved,” said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. “We start with the desire to enter the season in prayer,” he said.

Ash Wednesday is set 40 days before Good Friday. On this day, the faithful attend mass to have a priest or minister place the sign of the cross using ash on their forehead.


The ash comes from burnt palm leaves that were blessed during last year’s Palm Sunday celebration, or the commemoration of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Today also marks the start of the commemoration of the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ that culminates in Holy Week, which, this year, is in the last week of March.

Fasting, abstinence

“This is one of two days in the year we have fasting and abstinence. The other day being Good Friday,” Palma said.

Fasting, according to Roman Catholic teaching, is eating only one full meal and two smaller meals in a day, while abstinence is refraining from eating meat.

In a separate interview, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal reminded the faithful that the practice of abstinence is an obligation during all the Fridays during Lent.

He said they can substitute this spiritual exercise with acts of charity.

However, Vidal said people who are engaged in heavy labor or who don’t fall in the 18 to 60 age bracket may be exempted from fasting or practicing abstinence.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 13, 2013.

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