Some Catholic clerics and faithful, on Thursday urged Nigerians to use the Lent season to reconcile with God and their fellow citizens.
“Let us pray for our leaders in Nigeria so that God will bless us, grant us his peace, bless the Church and also bless our country, Nigeria,” he said.
They gave the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos following the commencement of the Christians’ annual Lenten period on Ash Wednesday.
They are expected during the 40–day period to fast, do penitence and charity for the less privileged.
Rev Fr. Tony Onyebuchi of St. Thomas Catholic Church, Papa-Ibafo, Ogun, advised the faithful to use the period for the renewal of their spiritual lives.
“It must be a period we put things right first with our God, do away with evils thoughts against our neighbours.
“ We should seek solutions to our faith where we have challenges and understand what we are doing regarding the faith we professed.’’
He also advised the faithful to abstain from those things they love most and assist the less privileged in the society.
Onyebuchi added that for people to change for the better, it had to start from the individual by being remorseful and sober.
Also, Rev. Fr. Clement Oddiah of Christ the King Parish, Akure, said Christians should use the Lenten season to reconcile with God and with one another.
“Lent is a time we journey back to ourselves in order to evaluate the purpose of life, which is to know, serve, and love God, who is the universal symbol of unity.
“It is a time of purification, a time of reconciliation and a time of reconnection, a time to grow in virtue and kill the bad vices in us, a special time to be spiritually re-invigorated,” he said.
According to him, the three pillars of Lent observances are: prayers, abstinence and almsgiving.
It is not just a time to stay away from sins but a period to do more good to others.
Similarly, Rev. Fr. Pius Eluka, currently on mission outside the country, said that Lent is a period of evaluation of one’s self, especially, as it falls within the election period this year in Nigeria.
“Periods of elections are periods of trial for us Nigerians, but consistency and determination and payers will always help us make the right choices.
“We need to still make sacrifices to participate in the electoral processes and do everything humanly possible to see that we have credible elections and results that satisfy the majority,” he said.
According to Eluka, it may take time and energy, but it is part of the sacrifices we need to make today in order to have better life tomorrow.
Rev. Fr. Gabriel Udoh of Saint Maria Gorreti Catholic Church, Abaranje near Ikotun,a suburb of Lagos, said that Lenten period meant staying away from sinful acts and vices.
“Let Nigerians run away from their sinful ways and embrace God, they should take advantage of this Lenten period and its daily messages and calling to change their ways,” he said.
He said that the Lenten period and the general elections were holding in Nigeria at the same time was a sign that all should exercise civil rights in truth and fear.
“Let us give room for a free and fair election. Let the people’s votes count so that they can begin to have confidence in the Nigerian project.
“Election is not and must not be a do or die thing for any reason. Let us, therefore, as Christians pray fervently during this Lent, offering our fast, abstinence and almsgiving to God in atonement for our sins.
“Let us pray for our leaders in Nigeria so that God will bless us, bless the Church and also bless our country, Nigeria,” he said.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Abhulime, the parish priest of Saints Joachim and Anne, Ijegun in Ikotun, urged the faithful to use the season to mortify the flesh so that the body could control the desired passion.
“The season expects us to bring down this passion of the flesh, ensuring that we fast along with charity for the less privileged.
“ Fasting without charity is fruitless because others should benefit from us so that we can store our riches in heaven and not on earth,” he said.
Abhulime noted that the 40 days observance was supposed to prepare Christians for greater season, striving to remain consistent to the end.
He said that the period had great significance in the scriptures, starting with the Israelites who spent 40 years in the wilderness and went through mortification of their lives in atonement for their sins then.
“Moses also spent 40 days on the mountain, preparing himself for a spiritual battle. Likewise, Elijah spent 40 days preparing for the mission of God,” he said.
He then called on Nigerians to avoid all occasions of sin and return to God just as the prodigal son did.
The president of the Christian Fathers, Saints Joachim and Anne, Mr Andy Odogwu, advised Nigerians to emulate the lessons of change and meekness in dealing with their fellow citizens.
“My advice to Nigerians as we commence this year’s Lenten Season is that we should actually reflect on our lives and see those areas that are not in conformity with the Gospel and seek change.
“Engaging in corrupt practices is inimical to transparency which Christ stood for while he was on earth,” he told NNN.
The Christians father advised Nigerians to turn away from hate speeches which could create mutual suspicion among selves rather than learn to love.
Also, a Nollywood member, Ifeanyi Dike noted that the whole sector should get involved in this practice of spiritual rebirth for greater achievement.
“Definitely, the Lenten season calls for sober attitude s from all and sundry. If the show must go on, we must realise that we have a creator that we need to worship,” he said.