By Emma Onumah,Emeka Etumnu and Charles Inyama
Christians all over the world marked the Ash Wednesday, last Wednesday, to kick off the Lenten season that ends with the Easter celebration.
Various churches in the nation held services as priests and religious leaders used the occasion to remind the faithful of the need to reconcile with God and efrain from their sins.
In an exclusive interview, the Anglican Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Cyril C. Okorocha, PhD, described the Ash Wednesday as a time for sober reflection, for all followers of Christ.
The Prelate urged Christians to use the period of Lent to ask for God’s forgiveness of their sins, and to ensure that peace and love reign among the citizenry of this nation, particularly in the face of the on-going electioneering campaigns in all parts of the country.
Bishop Okorocha also asked the people of this nation to use the period to inquire from God why the postponement of the elections.
He noted that, it is a period to love one another, irrespective of religious inclinations, and not a time to break one another’s head under the guise of politics.
The Prelate, who expressed great worry at the increasing rate of corruption in the country, called on all and sundry to use the period of this year’s Lenten season to repent, so that God would teach them His ways and deliver them from unrighteous acts.
According to the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese, Nigeria will survive if we can listen to God and repent, adding that faith and foolishness are not the same.
Bishop Okorocha warned: “if you lose your moral authority, you are no longer a true Christian, adding that if you are sharing the loots of a thief, you are also a thief”. Be warned, he concluded.
Also a Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr. Michael Chiwueze, called on Christians to shun sin and come back to God.
Fr. Chiwueze made the call during Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mulumba Catholic Church Wethedral road, Owerri, Imo State.
The assistant parish priest reflected on the importance of Ash Wednesday, saying that “Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of lenten period when Christians are called into prayer and fasting for forty days with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He stressed that God is ever willing to forgive sinners who come to him for forgiveness especially this period of lent, adding that, we are dust and dust shall we return which signifies the meaning of Ash Wednesday.
A parishioner who identified himself as Akunacho Kingsley told Christian Voice that lent is a period when Christians recall how Jesus started his missionary journey to save mankind and that Ash Wednesday should draw our attention to follow Christ on the mission of salvation, reminding us that as dust we shall also return to dust. He also, advised Christians to be committed to godly things as they prepare for salvation through the death of Jesus Christ.
In a similar development, Anthony Cyprain who is also a parishioner said that Ash Wednesday should remind us of our preparation to follow Christ footsteps on this journey.
At the St. Joseph’s Catholic Chaplain Imo State University (IMSU) Owerri, Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Njoku, the chaplain, urged Christians not to rush into Easter without weeks of prayer, fasting and abstinence that ought to sanctify them and bring them closer to God in reconciliation.
Members of the chaplaincy who spoke pointed out that lent is a time Christians must work on their bad habits.