Catholics at the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church receive ash crosses on their foreheads for the first time in two years in this year's Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Lenten season. (Photo by Joselle Marie B. Reyes/ The Varsitarian

Catholics were again allowed to receive ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday after two years of the practice being banned due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P.  said he was elated “by the number of faithful” who attended the Mass inside the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church on March 2.

Under Alert Level 1, Masses are allowed to accommodate up to 80 percent of the venue seating capacity, according to UST Parish Priest Fr. Paul Talavera, O.P.

Tiong said Catholics should not be joyless and instead be hopeful during the Lenten season in his homily during the University Mass for Ash Wednesday. 

“Ang Lenten observance ay hindi artificial na palulungkutin lang natin ang ating sarili para pagdating ng Easter ay magiging masaya tayo. We don’t need to make ourselves lonely so that we will be happy. As Christians, we should always be hopeful and happy,” he said.

He said the ashes imposed on the faithful symbolized Jesus’ presence and not merely a display of one’s repentance from sin.

“Malaki o maliit [man] ang krus sa ating noo, may kanya-kanya tayong pasan na krus. Hindi lang yan abo at krus; ito ay ang simbolo [ni Hesus] sapagkat [s]a ating puso, kasama pa rin natin siya,” he said.

‘Day of fasting, prayer for peace in Ukraine’

In a statement dated Feb. 27, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) joined Pope Francis’ call for fasting and prayer for peace in light of Ukraine’s suffering due to Russia’s invasion. 

“The Lord Himself taught us that there is no other way to combat the enticements of the devil, especially among those who are obsessed with power, wealth and fame other than prayer, fasting and acts of charity,”said the CBCP president, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said.

“We also invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother as we pray that the Lord move the consciences of the Russian people so that they themselves will be able to do the necessary steps in order to pressure their government to stop the war it has started,” he added.

On Feb. 23, the Pope appealed to people around the world to combat the “diabolical senselessness of violence” with prayer and fasting.

“I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” the pontiff said.

In a pastoral letter, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula reminded Filipinos to renew themselves to a “life of prayer, fasting and charity.”

Advincula also encouraged the faithful to participate in “Fast2Feed” campaign that aims to feed poor families.

“We continue to fulfill our mission of providing for the poor, especially for the malnourished children so they may have a chance for better health and growth, and full participation in our society,” the cardinal said.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It commemorates Jesus’ struggle for 40 days and nights in the desert.

The ashes signify the dust from which God made human beings.

During Lent, Christians around the world are called to prayer, fasting and almsgiving, leading to the celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and Easter. with reports Allyssa Mae C. Cruz


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