On Ash Wednesday, ashes made from last year’s palms are traced on the foreheads of Christians. Ashes recall the shortness of life and the inevitability of death, as in the familiar biblical passage read at funerals: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
Forty days before Holy Week, which celebrates the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians observe a solemn fast. Modelled on the 40 days Christ spent fasting in the desert, it’s a spiritual exercise that lights the way to the feast of Easter.
In previous times, Christians abstained from all meat and even all fats during Lent, with meals reduced to one per day, except Sunday. Today, the obligation to fast and abstain from meat is generally reduced to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
It often takes a lot to sacrifice. When it’s done in solidarity with others, the burden seems lighter.
We see this when workers strike or are locked out, as is the case in Regina with the Co-op Refinery. It’s not easy walking a picket line for days on end in the middle of a Saskatchewan winter. But workers are doing it, and they’re in high spirits. Dozens of OPSEU members have travelled to Regina to walk the picket lines as a sign of our unbreakable solidarity with Unifor and its president. When workers unite during the tough times, a power is generated that strengthens individuals.
That’s what Lent is about: strengthening individuals so they are better able to give more of themselves to God and their faith community, and to share with those in need.
To all observing Lent this year, we extend our best wishes for a happy and holy season.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer