By Roy Lagarde
February 17, 2021
More than fasting and abstinence, a Catholic archbishop said that Lent is an apt season to begin cultivating an attitude or lifestyle of gratitude.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said that the gratitude that comes from encountering Christ’s love and mercy is enough to make people holy.
“We don’t become holy by giving up. We don’t become holy by doing something for the Lord,” Villegas said. “What makes us holy? Gratitude.”
“Gratitude is what makes people saints and ingratitude is what makes people devils,” he stressed.
The archbishop was speaking in his homily during Ash Wednesday Mass at the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City.
The service marked the beginning of Lent, a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that ends at sundown on Holy Thursday.
But Villegas asserted that being grateful is “more important” than giving up and sacrificing.
“It is not about what we give up. It is saying ‘thank you’ for everything that makes us holy. It is not what we do for God,” he said.
“Let it be clear, God does not need what we want to do for him because Christianity is not about telling people what to do for God. Christianity is about telling people what God has done for humanity.”
“And if we know what God has done for humanity, what can we say but ‘thank you, Lord!’” Villegas added.
Ash Wednesday is traditionally the time when Catholics get a cross of ashes applied on their foreheads, but Covid-19 restrictions made church leaders modify the approach.
Rather than getting a cross of ashes on their foreheads, the faithful instead had ashes sprinkled on top of their heads as a reminder that “we came from dust, and to dust we shall return”.
“Remember that between the ashes of our origin and the ashes of our conclusion we have many blessings in between. Do not forget that all those blessings came from the Lord,” Villegas said.