Believers in Christ around the world entered the 2023 lenten season on Wednesday, which runs from February 22 through April 6.
The season, which begins with Ash Wednesday, would see Catholics observe it as, a time for prayers, acts of charity and mortifications.
Some during this period, give up things they like as they fast, including their favourite food items, watching television, or social media.
It is also the period when the faithful practice good deeds, such as almsgiving, and be particularly close to the needy and the suffering.
During the period, the faithful fast and pray for 40 days with the exception of Sundays, the day God rested from the work of creation that He had accomplished.
On Ash Wednesday, priests apply ash on the forehead of each person coming to the Church, saying – ‘Thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return’.
The head of the Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome and sovereign of the Vatican City State, Pope Francis in a Twitter post on Wednesday, prayed for sustenance of God’s people during the lenten season.
“Dear brothers and sisters, may the Holy Spirit sustain us this #Lent2023 in our ascent with Jesus. May we experience His divine splendour and thus, confirmed in faith, persevere in our journey with Him, the glory of His people and light of the nations.
“The Spirit sheds light on the path of the Church. He is not only the light of hearts, He is the light that orients the Church: He brings clarity, helps to distinguish, to discern. This is why it is necessary to invoke Him often; let us also do so today, at the beginning of #Lent,” he tweeted.
Information Nigeria could see that Christians attended church service this morning in commemoration of the start of lent. Some posted photos of their obeisance on social media.
One Twitter user, Emmanuel Echeta wrote, “Dear Catholics, take your ash this Ash Wednesday, and wear it with pride.
“Lent has begun. May these 40 days of fast and penance prepare us for the glorious Resurrection.”
Another tweep, Joy, who affixed a picture wrote, “Quick traffic selfie on my way to church for Ash Wednesday and also to pray for our victory on Saturday.”
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“It’s Ash Wednesday. The start of lent. I pray in the next 40 days and nights, that we draw closer to God in everything we do and lean on him for clarity and strength,” Pej tweeted.
“Lent 2023 is here!” Oluwabunmi Awoyemi wrote
“In Him, we have redemption through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. In this season you shall be restored and your strength shall be renewed in Jesus’ name,” he prayed.
However, parish priest of St Finberrs’ Catholic Church in Rayfield, Jos, Rev. Fr. Godfrey Gopep, during his sermon advised Nigerians to shun evil.
The religious leader, who decried the spate of evil acts among devotees, advised them to have the fear of God at all times.
”A lot of us are deliberately doing evil to hurt others; we stay awake at night to plan evil instead to pray and think of positive things,” he said.
The cleric urged citizens to be good to others, be pure in thoughts, dealings and shun acts that could adversely affect themselves, family and Nigeria.
”We should also use this holy season to serve God in sincerity and show love by serving the poor. By so doing, we will eradicate class of the poor,” he added.
Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo also explained what the exercise should be to those who will participate in it. He said apart from being virtuous, Christians must not endeavour to sell or buy votes during the elections.
Bishop Badejo’s comment was contained in a statement: “Lenten 2023: Nigerians knocking on Heaven’s door.”
He said: “Lent, is a 40-day season of great hope for Christians. Leading up to Easter, it calls for repentance, the mobilisation of all human, material, and spiritual resources to attract God’s mercy and favour on our personal lives and that of our country. This is important for long suffering, exasperated Nigerians especially as we elect new leaders to lead us into the future.
“L E N T says: ‘Leave Every Negative Thing.’ Call it a period for restoration, recovery and you would be right. It is a time when we are really knocking on heaven’s door for help.”
The annual fasting period prepares adherents for the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday.