Thousands of Christians from different denominations attend Blessed Wednesday to satisfy their spiritual hunger
Christians in Bangladesh have had a tradition of setting aside every Wednesday in Lent, thanking God for keeping them safe during a cholera epidemic, something that has only become more poignant during this coronavirus pandemic.”I used to come to this thanksgiving gathering with my parents.
My father was a schoolteacher but sang religious songs and I sing like my father, but I am a farmer,” said Bishownath Adhikary, 45, as he attended the Blessed Wednesday service at Nittyanandapur St. Thomas Church in Bangladesh’s Kushtia Diocese.”When I sing religious songs I get spiritual food. No matter how much I am in turmoil, I get peace by singing these songs,” Adhikary told UCA News.The Catholic from Our Lady of Rosary Church of Jessore district of Khulna Diocese was accompanied by his wife and two children at the February 24 service.”I feel joy when I come here at Christmas and Easter Sunday. When my younger child was born with complications, I prayed to the trinity and got rapid feedback.
Many faithful people get feedback and it increases our faith day by day,” Adhikary added.This was the 126th year Blessed Wednesday had been celebrated at Nittyanandapur St. Thomas Church in Meherpur district.It attracted 6,000 devotees including Agatha Baroi, a 49-year-old Protestant who came from Gopalgonj district to attend the holy celebration.”I like to attend religious gatherings like this. I’m a housewife and my husband is a fisherman. I don’t have much money but I attend religious gatherings. I’m here this year to pray for the coronavirus to end and let people’s lives return to normal,” Baroi told UCA News.
“We need spirituality as Christians and those holy gatherings give us spirituality. I also pray to God for the better health for our politicians and religious leaders.”Almost 130 years ago, some Protestants starting praying to the trinity during the cholera epidemic. As dozens died, Christians closed the houses and prayed to God and the epidemic stopped. Thankful Christians have held the thanksgiving ever since and named it Blessed Wednesday.
The thanksgiving program during Lent, which features prayers, preaching, charismatic healing and devotional music, attracts thousands of Protestants and Catholics.The keynote this year was “O God, create in me a pure heart, renew the steadfast spirit in my heart.””Thousands of people from different denominations come here every year to satisfy their spiritual hunger.
They pray to receive the Holy Spirit through devotional songs,” said Reverend Hemen Halder, bishop of the Church of Bangladesh’s Kushtia Diocese.”This inter-denominational gathering is full of spirituality as well as a festival of reunion for Christians. Since it is Easter Sunday right after this gathering, we can also call it preparation for Easter Sunday.”Every year Catholic priests attend Blessed Wednesday.
This year senior priest Father Patrick Gomes, secretary of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity and Inter-Religious Dialogue, attended the gathering.”I think the purpose of receiving the Holy Spirit through prayer is right. The way the whole event was arranged for this purpose seemed very spiritual and meaningful to me,” he said.”According to the Second Vatican Council, we cannot reject other religions or denominations that are beautiful and meaningful. People from any church can come here to hear God’s Word, which strengthens inter-denominational bonds.”The original melody that has been taken this time is similar to the resurrection. Since the resurrection is a celebration of renewal, this gathering we will prepare us for a new resurrection in order to gain the Holy Spirit.”
Courtesy UCA News