Lenten season has already begun for Christian communities around the world. It started on Ash Wednesday, a day in which we go to church to receive ashes on the forehead to signify "we are dust and to dust we return."
The practice of receiving ashes dates back to the fifth century and became a universal Christian practice by the 11th century.
As an important religious observance in the Christian world, Lent is the season to observe and commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer.
It is an opportune time to reflect on what it means to be a follower of Christ. Likewise, it's an opportunity to repent for our misdeeds and misgivings and to increase the intensity of our prayer, fasting, almsgiving, practice of our faith and welcoming others as our brothers and sisters in our faith community.
Moreover, Lent is a time to grow in and strengthen our faith, which binds us together and makes all things possible because of our love and devotion to Jesus.
If we follow his teachings, we become responsible, law-abiding citizens and peace-loving people. We become selfless, mindful of others, who benefit from our good deeds, kindness, charity and generosity. We become more aware of and concerned about others, especially the underrepresented, underserved, marginalized, disabled, elderly, helpless and hopeless in our midst.
Practicing our faith, we are able to Christ in them. We try our best to love and care for them the way we want to be loved and cared for.
And let's not underestimate the power of prayer in our lives. Prayer is the greatest thing we've got to save us from a lot of troubles.
As our personal conversation with our God, who knows what's inside of us, prayer is a powerful tool to create a miracle, to make things right or better in our lives. In the end, prayer leads us to a life of holiness towards God.
I believe in the power of prayer, because I have witnessed its fruits. There have been instances where I saw the results of my praying for others---like when they get better after a surgery or disease or a tragedy---that no rocket science or scientist can explain.
Call it a miracle, if you will, but I believe that, when we pray together, when we pray for others who need our prayers, things and people change for the better. We become interconnected, and we get closer to God.
Followers of Christ also practice almsgiving and fasting. We give of ourselves and our time, talents and treasures. We love to share what we have, because we believe that giving is caring.
We give up something or deprive ourselves of something so that others can have it. That's a sacrifice for others, for God. We just let others have it, instead of ourselves. That's giving; that's fasting, caring and loving. That's an act of love for others and for God because we see Christ in them.
We believe in giving, because it is in giving that we receive more blessings and graces from our Almighty God. To share is to give, and to give is to love, and to let others experience our faith
Doing these things can help us grow in faith, especially this Lenten season.
-Chris A. Quilpa, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, lives in Suffolk. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Appeared in the Opinion page of the award-wining Suffolk News-Herald, Thursday, March 23, 2017. For more information, visit www.suffolknewsherald.com.