Entering Christ Church Cathedral, the message on their board reads, “Your Father will reward you, and blessings come through fasting, prayer, and alms-giving.” Three things that all speak to love, and anything that deals with Jesus Christ is love, according to Reverend Chitan Thompson who delivered a message of sharing the love at services on Ash Wednesday to commence the Lenten season.
“Share the love of Lent,” said Thompson, the assistant curate at Christ Church Cathedral. “Fasting would be your love for oneself; prayer – love for God; and alms-giving – your love for your neighbor.”
It is the priest’s hope that at the end of the 40 days of Lent, which began yesterday and ends on Thursday, April 9, (excluding Sundays) – three days before Easter Sunday, that people emerge more spiritually connected to God.
“Our world can be so noisy and busy and we experienced that when we had our service in Pompey Square at 11 a.m., and if we are not careful, we will remain consumed in that noise and busyness,” said the priest. “So, part of Lent’s challenge is to step back, be still and silent, so you can hear God speaking more clearly. With Him speaking more clearly, we know how to deal with each other better; how to live better according to His will, and hopefully the country can be in a better state.”
Thompson delivered her message of love at three services – 7 a.m. at the Cathedral, an 11 a.m. service in Pompey Square and a 1 p.m. service at the Cathedral.
Yesterday’s Lenten services were her third preached as an Anglican clergy and first in New Providence and at the Cathedral. She was previously posted to South Eleuthera, where she served for two years.
For Thompson, preaching the Lenten message held significance.
“It was a humbling experience being at the mother church, and challenged me to give my best at all times.”
She also found it humbling placing ashes on people’s foreheads across the multiple services, as she said each service presented a different crowd and reminded her of how much people respect God in the country.
“People were coming to get their ashes to start the Lenten season off right,” she said.
The priest said the Pompey Square service was one of those experiences during which the church goes out into the community to show people that the church is still here, that God is still real, and He’s still working.
“We had a number of tourists [at the Pompey Square service] and, of course, it was beneficial for those persons who are traveling at this time to still receive their ash and get the Word as they start this Lenten season.”
With the 40 days of Lent just beginning, Thompson wanted people to remember the significance of the ashes they received yesterday, which is that it’s a reminder of mortality; that dust we are, and to dust we shall return.
“[Ashes remind us that] life is precious and fragile, and one day we all will have to account for the life we that we lived here now,” said Thompson.
During Lent, Christians focus on spiritual purification, meditation and penance. Oftentimes, Christians choose to take on something. Fasting is a traditional part of Lent, but not everyone does it. Its purpose is to symbolize penance and remorse for one’s sins.
Catholics traditionally give up eating meat on Fridays during Lent, except for fish.
As a 40-day holy season, there are a few important days observed – Ash Wednesday; Palm Sunday, which is held on April 5 this year and commemorates Jesus’ welcome into Jerusalem; and Maundy Thursday, which is held on April 9 this year and honors the date of the Last Supper when Jesus and his disciples shared a final meal together before Jesus was arrested by the Romans.
Lent lasts 40 days, drawing from the 40 days Jesus fasted in the dessert before starting his ministry.