CEBU CITY— This year’s Ash Wednesday, which falls on a Valentine’s Day, opened the season of Lent, adding more depth to the ongoing Provincial Chapter.
Fray Dionisio Selma, OAR, outgoing Prior Provincial, presided the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and focused his homily on authentic love. “The greatest [symbol of] love is not in Cupid’s arrow in today’s celebration of Valentine’s Day. But the real, the authentic [symbol of] love is the cross where Jesus died for us,” Fray Selma shared.
Lent is an opportunity for men to respond to that love of God. God suffered due to man’s sins. Fray Selma called this as “vicarious suffering.” Instead of us dying for our own sin, Christ died for us. He suffered and died on the cross in order for us to be saved.
In this season of Lent, we do acts of penance so that we can respond to that love of God. We express this act of penance through the imposition of ashes. Ashes symbolize mourning and repentance. This external expression of imposing ashes on our forehead reminds us that “we are dust, and unto dust we shall return,” Fray Selma said. Other expressions of our love for God are by fasting, pra ying, and almsgiving. Fray Selma emphasized that when we fast and abstain from things that we usually do, we do it to share with the sufferings of our brothers and sisters. Prayer is another expression of our love for God. “The more we become prayerful, the more we love God,” Fray Dionisio explained. He also mentioned that “we can give without loving. But we cannot love without giving.” By extending our hands to our needy brothers and sisters, we are challenged to be heroic and love others as it becomes part of our life.
Fray Selma concluded his homily by reiterating the mantra that Archbishop Villegas shared with the capitulars during their recollection: “Lord, change us even if we are not ready.” He even further prayed that the Lord may “convert us, even if we are not ready.”