Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return (Ash Wednesday)

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Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

A reminder of our mortality. Not many people dare to envision their own death, departure from their loved ones, the things they haven’t get a chance to do and how people are going to continue living without their presence.

I believe even older folks are afraid to face the fact the one day, every one of us will eventually die. We will either be reduced to ashes as in cremation or buried into the grounds. Or feed the fishes. Wateva.

But hey, welcome to the real world! Where we have to suffer and endure. But sometimes, there are smoother rides. God never promise us Heaven on earth. That Heaven where there is no war, no famine, no poor or ugly people, no petrol price hikes (aiks πŸ™‚ ) doesn’t exist here, dude. So, don’t get angry at God. It is not His fault, ok? He doesn’t want us to suffer but our greedy Eve had taken that first bite and thrown us into this hellish place call earth. So live with it, ya?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Think of the big picture. Imagine your life from the day you are born to where you belong. Neh…the picture up there? Or shall I add another one?

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Ya, that’s better. How well are we living it? Do you ever think beyond the grave? Do you picture a place much better waiting for you? I do. Not that I have much choice. Because I am going to break my bones if I have to just so that I can get to see my other son again. And of course, my other loved ones.

19 Γ’β‚¬ΛœDo not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust* consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust* consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Jesus’s words from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6:16-18)

We have this faith. The faith in God. It doesn’t matter that some people don’t and try to convince us otherwise. You can harp all day long about scientific facts. Or how you prefer to believe God doesn’t exists. Me? I will believe in my Lord, the God. I am going to wake up at the break of dawn, obediently go to the Obligatory Ash Wednesday mass and do what is expected.

I have just taken a look at the kind of stuffs I am supposed to confess and boy, they look like they are written just for me.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.

How true….

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,

Oh boy….

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us,

And these are just a few. More can be found here.

So…my next biggest problem is….I am supposed to fast. And I know I am terrible in remembering what I can eat or cannot eat. Especially when my kid bring his unfinished food and I will just absent-mindedly popped them into my mouth. Hey, waste not, want not, right? Catholics bro. and sis., can tell me how exactly do we fast on Lenten? It is fourty days! And I confess that I have never once fast. Not even on Good Friday in these last three years.

And hey, lest you think that I think fasting is going to gerenti 100% a ticket to Heaven, no. It is just something that I wish to challenge and discipline myself to do.

Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

and

16 Γ’β‚¬ΛœAnd whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.*

So, how ler? How do you find fasting? As a Muslim during Ramadhan, as a Buddhist (on 1st and 15th) , or Taoist during the nine emperor god or as a Hindu during Fridays (?). How to survive the temptations? Wikipedia has an interesting page on fasting by the different faiths. I didn’t know there are so many kind of faiths in this world until I read them. The only one not there is probably Ayah Pin. (ok, lame joke)

21 Replies to “Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return (Ash Wednesday)”

  1. I love the fasting month of Ramadhan. Apart from the fasting itself, one’s good deeds are doubled (even tripled) the merits, and satans are all being chained during Ramadhan. Kalau ada yang buat jahat jugak, that means diri sendiri tu memang dah macam setan la. πŸ˜›

    I’ve been fasting since I was small. Ramadhan is obligatory, but I also fast at other times too, e.g. 6 days during Syawal (the merits are equal to fasting for a month in Ramadhan), on Mondays and Thursdays sometimes. I remember when I tried fasting for the first time (when I was small), I started fasting for half a day, then gradually completed a whole day. How do I survive the temptations? Well, it boils down to faith and discipline. Of course, years of practice helps too. Best of luck with your fasting!

  2. Try to practice abstinence on things that you enjoy (e.g. meat, chocolate, etc.) and if you’d like to fast, eat one main meal and two light meals (lighter than usual la, maybe plain porridge?), usually breakfast will be the main meal.

    By the way, Ash Wednesday’s is a non-obligatory πŸ˜‰

  3. Well, during lent, some ppl also abstain from guilty pleasures which they tend to over indulge like reading comic books, watching movies and stuff. Its a time for reflection, praying and doing good for others like donating, etc. Its not just about fasting. Hope that helps and God Bless!

  4. a wise man, ahpek, once said,
    “to resist temptation, first be rid of it”
    so, in order not to have temptation, first, don’t create it.
    Temptation is created when you crave for something and can’t have it. So the cure would be have whatever you want. Then the cravings are cured. Once the cravings are cured, the temptation is gone! voila!
    I very wise hor?

  5. Aiks…thanks for reminding me tt today is Ash Wed. My friend and I tried fasting once on Ash Wednesday some years back… it was a real challenge. We looked forward so much to mass that day which was held at around 4p.m because we agreed that after mass we will break fast. That was one experience where I looked forward to mass so much. Terrible, I know.

  6. Celestine : It is?? I was brought up thinking that we had to fast the whole day. Even Father mentioned it during mass. I’m confused.

    Lilian : Anyway, for me…I never used to fast during Lent. To me, it was just another season in our Catholiv calendar (I think I got a one way ticket to hell edi) but I did abstain for the first time last year when I went to see Ted. Amazingly, he got me started and I am glad I did. I normally take 2 – 3 packs of sugar with my drinks (hotel wan lar) so for Lent, I cut down to 2 and (tried to) sacrifice beef. Imagine how tough it was, the beef sacrifice fell through like a hot plate on ice. But I did stick to the 1 packet of sugar and I felt good abt it.

    This time, I’m giving up teh tarik (God, pls give me the strength to pull this through!!!). It’s going to be VERY VERY tough but I will try for sure.

  7. When I was old enough to know what Lent was, my mom told me to cut my daily food consumption to half. That’s how it all began for me.

  8. Good luck on your fasting! Ah Pek is right…. I guess that is human nature. We wanted 3 or 4 cars when our buttock can only seat in one, we wanted 1 house in the city and one by the beach when we can only lie on one bed….. The list is endless.

    All the best to you. I’ll remember you when I makan the honey roasted char siu……lol

  9. helen – Heh, I damn discipline kinda person wan….Give me a nekid Gallen Loh oso I will stick to my oralgina Mr. Loh wan. So, I just ate three slices of seeded bread with no flour (dunno what healthy bread la) and one egg. Egg is not animal so can makan. Burrrp.

    Mia – Yeah, probably, I will try to do that and eat less meat. Good for the diet!

    Yvy – You seriously drink teh tarik every day? Aiyor, not guilty meh? I once in a while drink oso feel so bad ‘cos the susu so thick. After reading what you wrote, I drank Nescafe black, minus sweetener too!

    WMD – Hahaha, ya during Good Friday, everyone waits for the hot cross buns.

    ahpek – But if SYT keep coming on to ahpek, how?

    Prometeuz – Can can, eat only the vege part. Hahaha, the fast is not as strict as Muslim or Buddhist fasts. Relax sikit.

    Mia – Yeah, I heard that is call abstain. But cannot abstain from blogging!

    wuching – That’s what my atm does lor. He said he is going to order a whole roasted lamb tomorrow (today). Evil you.

    Celestine – Funny. Yvy and I, both of us received our weekly bulletin from the BEC. In there, it is stated as obligatory wor. Anyway, I missed the morning mass cos it was too cold. πŸ™‚ I will go tonight. And my palms from last TWO years Palm Sunday is not burnt yet.

    sky – It is a personal challenge and if I can fulfil, I would feel very at peace. Must lean on faith a lot. Weekdays is ok for me ‘cos my food depends on what I can find to eat. Weekends susah sikit la.

    jc – It is the 40 days leading to Easter. A time for reflections on our sins and time to renew ourself. We sort of follow Jesus’s path during His last few days before He was crucified. During the last week, there is a daily evening mass whereby we are reminded of all His hardships and at the same time, try to apply those hardships in our life. I like to attend those masses because it made me realise of our human weaknesses, evilness and at the same time, give the resolve to change. (or at least try to la).

  10. Didn’t realise it’s Ash Wednesday today! Since I left home many years ago, I haven’t been fasting in Lent, I haven’t been to church unless I’m visiting Malaysia but I’m praying every night. It’s not that I don’t wanna go to church, I live in a country where it’s impossible to go for an ENGLISH mass and 99% of the people living in this area are Lutherans. I’ve seen one or two Catholic churches here so far…

  11. This ‘Lent’ hor….tai yee long mya celebration kah? Or is it Lend? LOL

    Sky Kingdom also got fast wan wat. We fast from 10pm- 8am next morning. But during fasting we can kongket wan at nite. LOL

  12. wah, lilian. that title… was one of my favourite verses in the bible when i was small. it sounds like from a ghorror movie, hor?

  13. simon – Tonite I go get cross made with ashes chop on my forehead. Kinda nice, you got 666 chop on it anot ah?

    Cocka – True oso. God lend us this life on earth. So, we reflect how to pay back the lend? Make sense anot?

    Celestine – No, it is my bad. I just read the bulletin again and nope, it is not obligatory. πŸ™‚ But it is a day of fast and abstinence.

    mandy – I joined a Mandarin mass once and it was kinda weird ‘cos I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to say and do. πŸ™‚ But at least the sequence is the same. And I sang softly the Lord’s Prayer in English! LOL.

    Yvy – So far, so good, Helen cannot tempt me yet.

  14. Lilian, if you can fast for a whole day, you can do it over and over again. And by fasting, I mean the true meaning of fasting (no food and drinks, thou shall speak no evil, listen to no evil, no sexual desire/thoughts, etc) lah. Once you’ve conquered this (your own personal challenge), you can conquer almost anything, girl! πŸ˜‰

  15. Hi auntie…btw, the passage from Matthew chapter 6 is not verse 16:18 as stated in ur link…it’s actually 19:21

    good luck in ur fasting & keep in mind that salvation is through the heart, not the actions…but yeah, it’s the heart that determines the actions *turning purple*

    Cheers!

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