Amidst the chaos and panic caused in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the country, and the tantrums being thrown by some people analyzing ‘PSL- to be or not to be,’ Christians in Pakistan made their way to their respective Churches to mark the beginning of the Lent season. Lent, also referred to as Lenten season, is a forty-day period during which Christians observe fast. This season, which is subject to the sighting of the moon, begins on Ash Wednesday and commences on Easter Sunday that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ash Wednesday Mass being held at The Sacred Heart Cathedral Lahore

In Pakistan, the faithful made their way to the Church as early as the sunrise and continued to attend the Holy Mass, or Prayer Services, throughout the day. Ash, which is blessed by the Priest, is the utmost ingredient of Ash Wednesday . The ash is made from palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, which marks the Holy Week before Easter commences. Rev Fr Patrick Samuel, parish priest of St Mary’s Church explained:

“Ash Wednesday is one of the most important holy days in the liturgical calendar, which opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. The priest consecrates the forehead of the faithful with ash to symbolize the dust from which God made us while speaking the words ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ The purpose is to have the faithful to reflect on their sins and worldly interests, and hence, repent one’s sins as to be able to enter the heaven.”

While social media has been flourishing with debates on PSL final in Lahore, Christians across the nation marked social media with an ardent zeal to observe Ash Wednesday using hashtags like #Ashtag #AshtagWednesday and #Lent2017. Patras Francis who attended the 6am Mass at his parish Church said:

“There is nothing to panic about. We are a brave nation. We are resilient and by practicing our faith we are defying the enemy as it depicts coexistence and tolerance.”

While some made their way on their personal transport, others walked to the Church or took public transport to Churches that were afar. As one of the parishioners pointed out having rickshaw-walas, Uber and Careem give you service to your Church is, in a way, a sign of coexistence too.

Ash Wednesday Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral Karachi

As the Quaid said:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan.”

Christians across the country observed Ash Wednesday with prayers offered all day long and enhanced security at the Churches. The government, throughout the religious solemn occasions and festive events has actively guarded places of worship, and continues to do so on the respective days of worship.

This weekend, to be marked as one of the most happening event in history, has everyone busy in the excitement of PSL. And while more than half of our population would be attending PSL, the Christian community will make its way once again to the Church for the solemn services on Friday and Sunday with prayers for peace and prosperity.