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Back When Ash Wednesday Was Still Mandatory

When we were young students, we would stand in line going to the Church for Ash Wednesday. 

We call the rite "guling-guling". We never dared ask why we it was called that way; it is only now that I realized I should have asked that question.

In the afternoon after the rite, our teachers would whip those who made ways to remove the cross mark on their forehead.

We never asked why the dirt should remain on our faces. We also did not ask if it is possible to clean our faces in the evening before we sleep.

During these times, our attention would be on children of other Protestant religions who stay behind. Remember, Anglicanism, although we do not differ from our Catholic brothers, is still part of the Protestant circle.

These children were instructed by their parents not to join the rite and the teachers had no choice but to let them be. For us ordinary Anglicans, it was as if we were expected to comply with no questions- which we really did.

Sometimes, we laugh at these children because they are not part of the crowd, and take note how their parents criticize the combination of our birth culture and community religion in our daily life.

Truthfully, we had no idea what Ash Wednesday was all about. We were just there because our teachers told us to march towards the church.

All we knew was that we were excused from our classes. We did not know that it was our obligation as baptised Christians to go there.

Would it be nice if our teachers gathered us to explain what were about to do before commanding us to start moving? Would it be more productive and wise if we knew what we were doing in the Church?

We were never told about the wonders of Ash Wednesday. And we never heard explanations as to why these students from a public school inside a Church during that time.

Now I am free from that the Ash Wednesday obligation because I am done with my schooling. 

Honestly, I still have no clue as to why people have their foreheads marked with the ashes of palm leaves.

Pity me, but I am just telling the truth. Call it a confession of a Christian but it is true according to my conscience.

I am not saying that my teachers who mandated us to go for the Ash Wednesday rite were wrong. 

All I am saying is that a patient taking a certain medication should be given orientation on why and how that medication takes place in line with his journey to a speedy recovery.

Christian is a Marketing Communications practitioner in Quezon City. He is an Igorot from Sagada, Mountain Province. To get in touch with him, please shoot an email to christianaligonow@gmail.com.


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