Thousands of Christians have flocked to churches across the country to mark the beginning of the 40-day Lent period of reflection, repentance, and sacrifice.
At Lubaga Cathedral Parish worshippers gathered for an early morning Mass to receive ashes and begin their Lenten journey.
Rev Fr. Achilles Mayanja, Episcopal Vicar for Kampala Vicariate, delivered a sermon focused on the themes of sacrifice, and spiritual renewal.
“During this season of Lent, we are called to reflect on our own lives and the ways in which we may fall short of the ideal that God has set for us,” Rev. Fr Mayanja said. “Through prayer, fasting, and acts of service, we seek to draw closer to God and become the people He has called us to be.”
Lent is one of the seasons of the Christian liturgical calendar, along with Advent, Christmas, Easter, and Ordinary Time. It precedes Easter and is a solemn period centered on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In the same period, Christians give up certain luxuries or habits as a form of sacrifice and reflection.
Rev Fr Mayanja, also encouraged Christians to intensify their prayer life during the 40-day Lenten period. In his message to the faithful, he emphasized the importance of using this time to reconnect with God and deepen their faith.
Despite urging Christians to intensify their prayer life during Lent, Rev Fr Mayanja also expressed concern that some believers have forgotten the true meaning of Ash Wednesday. He castigated those who only show up for the sake of receiving the ashes without taking the time to reflect on their significance and meaning.
While acknowledging the importance of the physical act of receiving ashes, Fr Mayanja emphasized that true repentance and renewal come from within. He urged believers to take the time to reflect on their lives, seek forgiveness for their sins, and make a renewed commitment to their faith during this holy season.
The use of ash on such a day is symbolic in the catholic church. Records indicate that the ritual for the “Day of Ashes” is found in the earliest editions of the Gregorian Sacramentary which dates at least to the 8th century. Ash is used to expressing mourning, mortality, and penance. It is also a symbol of outward expression of the need to begin again.
In Uganda, the ash which is distributed to the faithful on Ash Wednesday is normally obtained by burning the palm branches which were used on the palm Sunday of the previous year.