Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas (UST) Vice Chancellor Very Rev. Fr. Napoleon B. Sipalay, Jr., O.P., in his homily for the Ash Wednesday Mass, urged the community toward self-reflection. The Mass, held on February 26, 2020 at the Plaza Mayor, was attended by the Thomasian community. It was concelebrated with Dominican Fathers.  

In Fr. Sipalay’s homily, he directed the community to reflect on the question “Where am I going?”

“We come from God, we return to God. God is a purpose for each one of us… [During Lent] we are reminded that we are for Christ, and we return to Him,” Fr. Sipalay explained.

With the purpose of turning away from the many diversions on the journey toward God, the Vice Chancellor asked that “We pray for the weapon of self-restraint – fasting, abstinence, and alms giving. Sometimes we fast with food. We fast with something that is very good and needed by our body. But if we already have the self-discipline to say no to good things, then that’s good practice to say no to the bad things [that lead us away from God].”

The Prior Provincial further emphasized the importance of the call of Lent, saying, “When we are anticipating a very important event, we heighten it through preparations, and the preparation [for Easter] is that starting with Ash Wednesday, we have [the season of Lent] for 40 days. I hope that when the Holy Week comes, when Easter Sunday comes, it’s really a new life amidst all the challenges we have. I hope we don’t lose track… We have different ways to follow the Lord, but we only have one destination: His Love”

In the Catholic religion, Ash Wednesday is observed as a holy day of prayer and fasting. It signals the first day of Lent. Part of the tradition is the marking of the foreheads with ash. For this year, in compliance with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ directive, dry ash was sprinkled on top of the faithful’s head instead of marking foreheads with wet ash. This is one of the safety precautionary measures that the Catholic Church in the Philippines is trying to carry out to curb possible transmission of COVID 19.