MANILA — The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is reminding the Catholic faithful to observe fasting and abstinence this Ash Wednesday, marking the commencement of the Lenten season.
Fr. Bryand Restituto, assistant secretary general of the CBCP, emphasized that Ash Wednesday is a day of obligation for Catholics, designated for fasting and abstinence.
This year, the movable feast of Ash Wednesday falls on February 14.
On Ash Wednesday, Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass and receive ashes on their foreheads, symbolizing the beginning of the season of prayer and repentance.
Restituto emphasized that the pillars of Lent are prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.
“The ashes symbolize self-denial, humility and man, ‘you are dust and to dust you will return,’ ” he said.
The 40-day Season of Lent, leading up to Easter, signifies a period of reflection on our dependence on God. “We are truly nothing without God. We need to contemplate this for 40 days, acknowledging that everything hinges on God. We must learn to hold onto God, to pray, express gratitude to Him, seek His assistance, and embrace the mercy and forgiveness offered to us through His death and resurrection,” he elaborated.
The CBCP official clarified that “self-denial” extends beyond mere abstention and fasting and is not restricted solely to food.
“Self-denial also goes with works of charity, helping others. It is always a self-denial act that we should do,” he said.