July 14, 2024
Ibadan Archdiocese

DAILY CHEWING STICK FOR ASH WEDNESDAY 2022

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DAILY CHEWING STICK FOR ASH WEDNESDAY OF 2ND MARCH 2022 (Joel 2: 12-18; 2 Cor 5:20- 6:2; Mtt 6:1-6, 16-18).

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

EVERY ASH WEDNESDAY AND LENTEN SEASON reminds me of TWO beautiful and inspirational songs:
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS NAME THEM ONE BY ONE, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE, COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS NAME THEM ONE BY ONE; AND IT WILL SURPRISE YOU WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE.
Yes, just as it will surprise YOU, ME & US when we take time to count our BLESSINGS; so it will SURPRISE YOU, ME & US when we take time out to COUNT OUR SINS from Ash Wednesday last year till today.
With PROPER EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE, only You & Me can tell the degree of Sins we have committed. Some are so despicable and heinous that in the eyes of HUMAN we deserve NO MERCY & SHOULDN’T BE FORGIVEN. But in the eyes of God, despite all these, ASH WEDNESDAY which begins LENT is here, and God says to us through Prophet Joel in the first reading: COME BACK TO ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART, FASTING, WEEPING, MOURNING AND THE GOSPEL ADDS GOOD DEEDS(ALMS GIVING) AND PRAYER.
Now the 2nd Song comes to mind:

JESUS THOU ART COMING

(1) Jesus, Thou art coming,
Holy as Thou art,
Thou, the God who made me,
To my sinful heart.
Jesus, I believe it
On Thy only word;
Kneeling, I adore Thee
As my King and Lord.

(2)Who am I, my Jesus,
That Thou comet to me?
I have sinned against Thee,
Often, grievously;
I am very sorry
I have caused Thee pain;
I will never, never,
Wound Thy Heart again.

(3)Put Thy kind arms round me,
Feeble as I am;
Thou art my Good Shepherd,
I, Thy little lamb;
Since Thou comest, Jesus,
Now to be my Guest,
I can trust Thee always,
Lord, for all the rest.

(4)Dearest Lord, I love Thee,
With my whole, whole heart,
Not for what Thou givest,
But for what Thou art.
Come, oh, come, sweet Saviour!
Come to me, and stay,
For I want Thee, Jesus,
More than I can say.

Dearly Beloved in Christ, for a God who is so kind, compassionate and rich in Mercy, ARE THESE REQUIREMENTS NEEDED TO COME BACK TO HIM TOO MUCH?
I don’t think they are!
So, what are you waiting for?
It’s ASH WEDNESDAY & LENT BEGINS TODAY, USE THIS GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY WELL TO RETURN TO YOUR GOD.

Brethren, ASH WEDNESDAY is an important day in the Church and in the life of every Christian. It is a Church celebration that occurs each year about six and half weeks before Easter.
ASH WEDNESDAY is the first day of LENT. And on this day annually, through a simple ritual, ashes from burned PALMS of the previous year, are placed in the Sign of the cross on the forehead of each church member. THIS SYMBOLIZES HUMAN NEED FOR REPENTANCE.
Each one of us during LENT which begins with Ash Wednesday MUST discover the root of our SLAVERY which is SIN. We must uproot this root of evil from ourselves and from the world. We must fight against SIN. Without this we cannot reach communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.

Dear Friends in Christ, In the world of Hebrew symbolism, ashes represented SADNESS, TROUBLES, GRIEF OR UNWORTHINESS(cf Job 2:8,30:19; Psalm 102: 10).
It is equally important to note that SOME HARSH ISRAELITE PENANCES included the public wearing of SACKCLOTH AND ASHES (Jer 6:26, Matthew 11:21). Many early Christians carried on this tradition of public penances for SINFUL wrongdoing. About the year 600, Gregory the Great set Ash Wednesday as the first day of LENT. He it was who extended this Christian season of PENANCE to its present lenght of over 6 weeks.

Today the palm branches from the previous passion(Palm) Sunday are burned and the resulting ashes are blessed. A traditional saying has long been used as a Priest or pastoral associate crosses an individual’s forehead with ashes: REMEMBER, YOU ARE DUST AND UNTO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN(Gen 3:19). The truth which the above statement reminds us is that ALL SHALL DIE. These words were first addressed to Adam: OF THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL YOU SHALL NOT EAT, FOR IN THE DAY THAT YOU EAT OF IT YOU SHALL DIE (Gen 2:17).
Death is the fruit of SIN. The words, “You are dust and to dust you will return” contains a severe sentence. And God who pronounced them, is revealed in them as the CREATOR AND AS THE JUDGE.
Furthermore, LENTEN THEMES of humility, sorrow for SIN, and need for God’s forgiveness are brought to mind also in alternate sayings now used on Ash Wednesday: TURN AWAY FROM SIN AND BE FAITHFUL TO THE GOSPEL.
We are dust because of our sins. We have to HUMBLE ourselves before God. The imposition of ashes is intended to signify precisely this act of HUMILITY, inspired by the hope of divine forgiveness.
Ash Wednesday remains a day of FASTING & ABSTINENCE for Catholics Worldwide, according to a decree by POPE PAUL VI.

Good Morning & Happy ASH WEDNESDAY and Welcome to LENT!

Rev. Fr. Francis Uchechukwu Onugha
(Fada Kosi Much)

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