The Season of LENT: time to pause, ponder and prayPosted on
Our Christian teachings have taught us about the 40-day fasting and prayer time known as Lent.
Early Christians, according to some theology mentors, fasted from food for theological purposes, as do the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Refraining from eating is related to an increased emphasis on prayer and the tradition of helping the needy by offering alms or donating food in all three.
Various Christian cultures also observe a 40-day fast until the start of the liturgical year’s three holiest days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter in the fourth century.
When Christianity spread throughout Western Europe from the fifth to the 12th centuries, so did the ritual of Lent. Before the fasting was progressively moderated, some Lenten days were also complete fast days. By the end of the Middle Ages, eating a meal at noon was commonplace.
Fasting was originally intended to prevent self-indulgence during this period of repentance for one’s sins. Marriage, as a joyful ritual was also forbidden during the Lenten season.
Today, Catholics and some Christians still abstain from eating meat on the Fridays of Lent, and eat only one meal. Others ‘give up’ something like refraining from any pleasurable activity such as partying or doing any outdoor activities, as a form of ‘sacrifice’ and a kind of ‘atonement’ for any wrongdoing in the past.
Overtime, some practices may have changed but Lent in the 21st century is still seen as an opportunity for spiritual rebirth, whether it’s by reconciling with alienated family members or friends, or simply by taking some quiet time to reflect or practice a spiritual discipline, just like in the past.
Time to pause and ponder
Sharing some views about Lent, Newsline.ph is blessed to listen to various perspectives from the field as we pause and ponder about lent amid health pandemic.
A former rector of the Seminary in Tagum City, everyone is so fond about his wit and humility even after he left priesthood, as we all still call him Fr. Felix Abangin. He joined government service after serving several parishes in what used to be the Prelature of Tagum, and retired as the former head of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Davao del Norte in 2017.
Here are his thoughts.
“Six important days of the Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, when we shouted ‘Hosana – welcome Jesus my King and my God’. We therefore have time to pause, ponder and pray. God is not finished with His death. His death is not ‘goodbye’ — it is overcome by His resurrection. Our faith tells us that God loves us so much and we will be resurrected with Him in the last days.
Covid-19 is a dreadful part — likened to a doomsday apocalypse, where about nearing 150 million persons already affected and almost three million have died. And the John Hopkins, still, is counting those rising numbers while health experts panic for remedies like creating vaccines. The fear chokes even people of faith.
Many of my relatives and friends have died, while a friend doctor keeps encouraging me that aside from the vaccine, I should take Ivermectin for protection, but the supply is unavailable. I fear a vaccine, and at 67, I pray to God for safety including my loved ones, my friends and all the people from contamination of the virus.”
Ruben M. Dongzal, 54, is a byword at the Brokenshire College who consistently served as PTA president for quite some time until his only son finished Basic Education. Currently serving as Barangay 8-A Kagawad in Davao City, Dongzal is also an active Lay Minister at the St. Jude Parish of the Archdiocese of Davao.
As a public servant, he understood the pains that every constituent is struggling to overcome, and he grappled with what was left for all to go on with their everyday lives without being infected by Covid-19. According to him, Lent is a good time for all to listen to those who aren’t heard and to donate to those who are in need.
Dongzal shared, “I have to stop and ponder why are all these happening . . . our economy has suffered, and people affected are desperate for work. Many have turned hungry, or, even angry at the situation where people seem so disconnected. New learning modes explore to no end, while children or students suffer from the quality of education they get.
Suffering is visible not only in our homes, but also in our communities where small and big business are closing, tourism industry is dying. We have started prioritizing those who should be inoculated with anti-covid vaccine, but the threat is still horrifying as we continue to see increasing number of cases around us.
We hope that during Holy Week, people will take a moment to reflect and pray for God’s loving mercy. We must heal our land and remain optimistic rather than despondent. We must have faith in one another, including those in government, that the merciful Father will continue to direct them in whatever decisions they make, especially for those who are most affected by the pandemic.”
Agnes N. Miclat-Cacayan, is a homegrown feminist, who served the indigenous peoples communities in almost every part of this country since the 80s. She is passionate doing her works about women and the environment. She authored the book: The Shaman woman’s Dream – How Can We Worship god Without the Forest?
“We are now living in a highly complex world. Truth telling has become extremely difficult because we are prey to fake news that used credible-looking infographics and the like. This Lenten season, my prayer will be that humanity be granted the wisdom to be able to find the grains of truth hidden from us or in disguise, piece them together, and having done that, hold on to her by keeping her safe in our hearts and our knowing soul,” Cacayan, 67, shared as her pervent prayer for this season of Lent.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord
To cap, this writer could not resist asking the thoughts of Fr. Pete Lamata, the Director of the Archdiocesan apostolate on Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue as well as the incumbent Parish Priest of St. Francis of Assisi in Buhangin, Davao City.
“Experiencing the effects of Covid-19 pandemic during this Holy Week, I come to think that God is sending us messages.
First, our home quarantine experience is building and enhancing family communion. Now, members of families come together, reason together, pray together and act together.
Second, we discover the importance of social media. Churches for example resort to online masses, online recollections to reach-out to their flock during this holy season.
Third, people are becoming creative in order to live and survive in this so hard and challenging time. They are now engaged in various businesses which they did not think ‘para magkapera’.
Fourth, church and state in the local level of our Philippine society are working intimately together to help the ‘hungry and angry’ poor in the barangays and parishes.”
Fr. Pete concluded by sharing this message to Newsline: The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (17:7-8) reminds us of God’s blessing as saying, “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHO TRUSTS IN THE LORD, WHOSE TRUST IS THE LORD. HE IS LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY WATER, THAT SENDS OUT ITS ROOTS BY THE STREAM AND DOES NOT FEAR WHEN HEAT COMES, FOR ITS LEAVES REMAIN GREEN AND IS NOT ANXIOUS IN THE YEAR OF DRAUGHT FOR IT DOES NOT CEASE TO BEAR FRUIT”.