MANILA, Philippines – After an ease in COVID-19 restrictions, Filipino Catholics once again received cross-shaped ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, March 2. For the past two years, the Catholic Church had been forced to modify the Ash Wednesday ritual to keep churchgoers safe from COVID-19.
Ash Wednesday is the start of the 40-day Catholic penitential season of Lent, characterized by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent paves the way for the observance of Holy Week, which commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, leading to the celebration of his resurrection on Easter.
“Lent is a period of 40 days of intense spiritual preparation, interior preparation of our hearts, for the glorious celebration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter time,” said Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, in a homily at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Church of the Gesù on Ash Wednesday.
“Lent is a period of spiritual militancy, an interior spiritual militancy, an interior battle of the heart, the unseen warfare of our hearts so that our hearts will grow and will be filled with God’s grace,” Brown added.
Here are some of the images from this year’s observance of this Lenten tradition: