Lent season is a time 40 days ahead the Resurrection Day. For Christians within this period prayer, fasting and alms giving obligation are performed. Self denial is a common practice observed by many Christians which is one part of Christian faith.
The ash on Ash Wednesday which is applied on foreheads of the congregation is obtained from the burnt leaves of palms gathered on Palm Sunday. The basic teaching of the Ash Wednesday is that man is mortal.
The ash is a sign of repentance and has its basic roots in Jewish tradition in which they put ash on their head in order to repent on their sins.
Like all over the world today Pakistani Christians will conduct special Ash Wednesday services in all the churches. The priests will make a cross sign on the congregation foreheads with palm ash as a symbol of self denial.
This year the first day of the Lent Season occurred on the same day of love bird’s day known as Valentine Day.
Valentine’s Day was a Saint who was martyred for arranging marriages for the people who were not allowed to marry under the rule of Roman Empire which persecuted Christians.
The Catholic Diocese of San Angelo Bishop Michael Sis says that after 1945 the both event occurred together on the same day. He suggested that the people who are observing Ash Wednesday must observe fast and keep away from alcohol. He also suggested that following the tradition of Valentine they could take their loved ones for dinner one day earlier and then attend the Ash Wednesday together on Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is the day of unity and humility. With the ashes cover on forehead we admit that we are not God and made from dust. Human beings are not forever. The life that we have on earth will end one day.
Humans have restraints of death, weakness and sins. Throughout the whole year we can be tempted to other things which make us to run away from these constraints assuming not to expose our weakness to others. We work to earn our happiness in materialistic things. We wear mask of strength and flawlessness. We remain under the spell global visions throughout the whole year and have limited thoughts.
Ash Wednesday expose us our real face beyond the mask. It is common practice of Jesus’ life of self denial.