By Rose Achiego, Nairobi, Wednesday 26/02/2020
The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Deputy General Secretary, Rev. Fr. Lucas Ong’esa, has called on Christians to give up sin and seek holiness during this Lenten period so as to renew their faith in Christ.
In his Homily at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat in Nairobi, during Eucharistic Celebrations to mark Ash Wednesday, Fr. Ong’esa said the season of Lent ‘is a moment of preparation by the Christian faithful to renew their baptismal promises and become new creations so they can restore their joy and hope.’
“St. Paul says, when writing to the Romans (6:3-6), that when we were baptized, we died to our old way of life to live a new way of life i.e. when we were baptized we died to our old sinful ways, we left sin behind. Therefore, St. Paul says when we were baptized we went into the tomb with Jesus and rose out of the tomb again with Jesus to a new life,” said Fr. Ong’esa.
He said the penitential rite is a traditional doctrine of Christian spirituality that enables individuals to turn away from sin and go back to God. He told the faithful that their external gestures must always be matched by a sincere heart and consistent behavior.
“The penitential rite with which we begin our every day’s celebration has helped us enter the typical atmosphere of recognition of our sins; which is a personal and community pilgrimage of conversion and spiritual renewal,” he said.
He observed that the season of Lent is a time of special grace for the faithful to repent, give alms and pray, adding that ‘Lent is the ideal time to unmask these and other temptations, to allow our hearts to beat once more in tune with the vibrant heart of Christ.’
“The season of Lent gives us time once again to die to our old sinful ways and rise out of the tomb with Jesus to a new way of life, so that by the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night when we renew our baptismal vows, we will also have renewed our lives,” said Fr. Ong’esa.
“The dust of what we are, the dust of what we will become. These marks also proclaim exactly who we are – Christians. We have been claimed by Christ. And for this reason, we have vowed to honor this season leading up to the holiest week on our liturgical calendar.”
Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, and falls six and a half weeks before Easter. The Lenten period is one of reflection and repentance of sin, with those who observe it expected to seek reconciliation with God.
The Church encourages the Christian faithful to give up an indulgence, or fast, during Lent as a representation of the Temptation of Christ as he fasted for 40 days and nights in the Judaean Desert.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from early traditions in the Christian Church in Rome, when penitents and sinners would partake in a period of public penance. During this, they were sprinkled with ashes and dressed in a sackcloth until they were reconciled with church-goers on Holy Thursday.