By Christina Hermoso
As Roman Catholics mark the First Sunday of Lent today, a high ranking Catholic Church leader called on the faithful “to reflect, repent, and be sorry for sins.”
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles urged the faithful “to avail the season of grace during Lent so that we would be really prepared to welcome the joyous season of Easter,” he said.
“Lent is an opportune time to reflect on all our sins, on our shortcomings, all the wrong that we have done against the teachings of Christ,” Valles said over Church-run Radio Veritas.
“Prepare deep in our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter, the Paschal mystery, the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus that brought us salvation,” the prelate added.
The 40-day season of Lent began on Ash Wednesday, March 6, with the imposition of ashes on the faithful’s forehead. “The imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday reminded us of Jesus’ call for conversion, the need to go back to the Lord, and the immense and never ending mercy of God,” Valles stressed.
The Church leader, likewise, urged the faithful to perform corporal works of mercy such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and prisoners, paying last respects to the departed, nourishing the thirsty, and helping the homeless.
For his part, Balanga Bishop Ruperto C. Santos called on political candidates “to follow the example of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, Jesus overcame all the temptations presented before Him. So too must those who are aspiring to serve. As a way of true service, it should be God first, do what is good for the people, and be the source of goodness to others,” Santos said.
Meanwhile, the confessional in all churches will be available for longer hours during Lent to give churchgoers more opportunity to avail of the Sacrament of Penance. The Church encourages the faithful to engage in more charity and missionary work in their local parishes, to receive Holy Communion often, and to support the Church’s Fast2Feed program, which encourages the faithful to donate the money that was saved from fasting to their parish to help feed malnourished children.
Also known as Quadragesima Sunday, which means 40th in Latin, the first Sunday of Lent signifies that there are exactly 40 days from today until Good Friday, which will be observed on April 19 this year. On all Sundays of Lent, it has become customary to dispense from fasting and abstinence as Sundays are considered a day of rejoicing, being the day when the Lord resurrected. Sundays are also not counted among the 40 days of Lent.