Engage in Lenten Observances Devoid of “outward show”: Catholic Archbishop in Nigeria

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Abuja Archdiocese

Christians will do well to engage in Lenten Observances devoid of outward display to win people’s recognition, the Catholic Archbishop of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese has said. 

In his message for Lent 2024 issued on Ash Wednesday, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama advocates for “true religion”, which he says helps as a deterrent towards evil. 

“We are required to practice true religion, not the outward show that we display for people to say we are good Christians,” Archbishop Kaigama says in his February 14 Lenten message, and adds, “True religion makes you fear God and helps you to avoid bad things. Whether in the night or in the daytime you must try to avoid bad things."

The Nigerian Catholic Archbishop faults those who perceive lent as simply a time to fast from consumption of food and drink.

“Lent is not just about fasting from food, from alcohol and the pleasures of life but also another opportunity to give up evil habits within us,” the Local Ordinary of Abuja since his installation in December 2019 says. 


He goes on to highlight some challenges the people of God in Nigeria are facing, saying, “We see evil happening around us on a daily basis: killings, kidnappings, corruption and injustice.”

“I'm afraid that if these evils persist one day God will do to Nigeria what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah. May God forbid,” he says, adding that Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season, serves as a reminder of “human fallibility and the boundless mercy of God.”

Archbishop Kaigama explains, “At the beginning of this Lenten season, we use ashes to remind us of this fact that we are sinners. In the Old Testament, Ashes were a symbol of repentance and a search for conversion. Let us stop like the prodigal son and return to the father.”

“Lent is a season of interior renewal and purification,” the Catholic Church leader, who started his Episcopal Ministry in April 1995 as Bishop of Nigeria’s Jalingo Diocese, says in his February 14 Lenten Season message.

He invokes his blessings upon the people of God “for a transformative Lenten season, and for divine grace for national redemption and renewal.”

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Abah Anthony John is a Nigerian Journalist with great enthusiasm and interest for Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State Nigeria. He has vast experience in Print,  Electronic and Multi-Media Production.