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Ash Wednesday: Archbishop urges Christians to embrace love, sacrifice as Lent begins

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Ash Wednesday: Archbishop urges Christians to embrace love, sacrifice as Lent begins

The Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale, has urged Christians and Catholics all over the world to “remember the need for repentance and transformation” from sins as the world observes Ash Wednesday.

The Archbishop, in his homily on Wednesday, urged the Christian faithful to remember the three gospels of love, sacrifice, and arms-giving as they embark on the “pilgrimage journey of lent.”

Speaking on a theme titled “Rising from the Ashes,” the spiritual leader noted that the season of lent calls for a “radical change of heart and mind” from sin and vices of the world.

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said, “today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of the holy season of lent.

“The season of lent is an invitation to embark on a spiritual journey together with the whole church. A journey that demands a radical change of heart and mind,” he added.

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Drawing inspiration from the books of Joel, 2 Corinthians, and Matthew as “passages for reflection,”  he said, “This gives us a road map for this spiritual pilgrimage.

”The prophet Joel calls out to us to ‘return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.’

“This, my dear friends, is a divine invitation for us to reaccess our lives, to turn away from the distractions of sin and the world, and to embrace the loving arms of our merciful God.

“St. Paul declares that this invitation demands immediate and radical responses because, as he says, ‘now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.’

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“Jesus himself tells us in clear terms the three disciplines that we must embrace in order to make our lenten pilgrimage a success: fasting, prayers, and arms giving.

“Through our observance of these three pillers of lent, we will be able to bring ourselves back into communion with God by the end of our spiritual pilgrimage.

“By Easter Sunday, when we enter into the joy of the resurrection of the Lord, we cannot be the same persons we are on this day of Ash Wednesday.

”We would have risen from the ashes of sin into the joy of new life.

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“Our lives, our society, and the world, by extension, would have begun to experience a radical change.”

The Archbishop also urged Christians to “remember that the ashes imposed on our foreheads are not a badge of honour or a display of self-righteousness. Rather, they are a humble acknowledgement of our need for repentance and a visible sign of our commitment to the transformation journey of the season of lent.”

He noted that “the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday in the Catholic Church is distinguished by the rigour of the blessing and impossition of ashes, ashes that are from the burning of palm branches that were used during last year’s Palm Sunday procession.

“In other words, the ashes, being the final paltry remnants left behind by the once vibrant palmfronts, remind us of death, the final end of human beings.

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“Hence, the imposition of the ashes that we receive today is accompanied by the words ‘remember you are dust, and unto dust shall you return’ or similar wards.”

He further enjoined Christians to use and see the ashes recieved on Ash Wednesday as a protest against the abnormalities happening in Nigeria and the world at large.

He said, “So as we go out into the world bearing the ashes on our foreheads today, let the ashes be our protest against the dysfunction that is seen in our society.

”Let the ashes on our foreheads also be a visible proclamation that we accept the facts that we’re called to be different to resist the allure of the world that often neglects the gospel values of love, justice, and mercy.

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”Let the ashes be a symbol of our realisation, not only that things are not as they ought to be, but to stop whatever we may be doing that contributes to the dysfunction.”

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