The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Bishop Ignatius Kaigama has called on Nigerians to show more concern about humanity and the things that bind them together and to also shun ethnicity and religious sectionalism.
Bishop Kaigama stated this in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, as Christians in Nigeria join their counterpart across the globe to mark Ash Wednesday.
The Bishop also summoned Nigerians irrespective of their religious affiliation to use this period to come back to God to attract God’s blessings in the areas of social progress, cohesion, harmony, dialogue, and peace amongst the citizenry.
In his words, “We lose our opportunities by not turning to God and do the right thing. So we are being summoned to come back to God, all Nigerians, without exception, the Christians, the Muslims, the Traditional worshipers, all of us, let’s return to God and we shall see the wonders and miracles that God will do for us at the end of the spiritual journey.”
He also spoke on the expectations of Nigerians: “At the end of this season, we shall have more holy Nigerians and people who are more sensitive to the needs of the poor especially those in leadership positions, that they will be aware that the poor need them and their services. It is not only those in leadership positions but even the ordinary Nigerians on the street. We should develop sensitivity towards the other person not about religion or tribe, and that is what draws us back as Nigerians. Instead of looking at the common good and what binds us together in love, peace, and happiness, we are so sectional, polarized and so fragmented, and that is why even with plenty we are still suffering, there is lack of employment, poverty hunger and all that.”
Ash Wednesday is the Christian celebration, especially in the Catholic Church.
It is the beginning of the Lenten season which sets off the forty days before Easter, where Christians are called to be more devoted to making a spiritual journey towards holiness, by praying more than before and being attentive to the needs of the poor. Christians also observe fasting, almsgiving, and repentance during this period.
Archbishop Kaigama also called on Nigerians to use this time to turn to God in repentance and seek his help through prayers.
For Nigerians also, the day is set aside to pray for God’s security and peace in Nigeria as well as put an end to incessant killings.
As a mark of mourning for all those who have been victims of the most recent wave of violence against Christians, the faithful all dressed in black today and offer their prayers and penance for the repose of the dead.
On this day, the Priest administers ashes blessed during the Holy Mass on the people and invites all to accept the ashes as a symbol of penance and contrition with a reminder that “man is dust and unto dust He shall return.”