Ash Wednesday Mass: Palma urges faithfuls to pray, repent, and abstain from bad habits

By: Rosalie O. Abatayo March 06,2019 - 08:32 PM

Catholic faithfuls attending a Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral queue to have their foreheads marked with the sign of the cross using ash during the observance of Ash Wednesday on March 6, 2019. CDND Photo/Tonee E. Despojo

CEBU CITY, Philippines —Individuals wearing ashes that form the cross on their foreheads marked the start of the Lent as the Catholic community observed Ash Wednesday today, March 6, with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma urging the faithfuls to repent and abstain not only from food but also from their bad habits.

Palma said the Lent should be used as an inspiration for do penance and to rediscover a better version of one’s self.

“We should take this occasion to really be serious about repentance, to really be reformed and to journey in [the] faith of the season. Every moment should be an opportunity to strive to be better,” Palma said in an interview after he celebrated the 5 p.m. Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Aside from abstaining from the comfortable and excessive amount of food, Palma also urged the faithfuls to impose discipline on themselves and refrain from committing their bad habits as a form of penance.

“Fasting is just a reminder but the heart of this is discipline and control. I think besides food we should also think of what can we also fast or abstain from — perhaps spending too much time on TV or other practices which may not be beneficial anymore. Maybe also a way of becoming serious with the season, probably some habits of gambling,” Palma said.

“Those things are challenges that make the idea of fasting more credible and more beneficial,” the prelate added.

The relic of St. Camillus on display at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on March 6, 2019. | CDN Digital/Tonee Despojo

Cebu’s observance of the Ash Wednesday this year has also been coupled with the veneration to the 404-year-old incorrupt heart relic of St. Camillus, the patron of the sick and health care professionals.

St. Camillus, who died in 1614 in Italy, lived the life of a mercenary before turning into the ministry and founded the Camillians, founded the congregation dedicated for the sick.

Military Ordinariate Bishop Oscar Florencio, in an interview, also said the visit of the relic in time with the Ash Wednesday observance is appropriate to remind the Catholic community that there is something greater that awaits to take place if they choose to repent and renew their ways./elb

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