What is Lent?

There are times when the physical person is calling the heart of the spiritual into alignment. Fasting is just that. Humans are a unity of physical and spiritual being and sacrifice or emptying of either can call the entire person back into focus.   The period of Lent for many Christians is a season when we take an extended fast to allow a regular sacrifice to refocus our hearts on the sacrifice of Christ and to end in the celebration of His resurrection.

Where does the word “Lent” come from?

The Teutonic word Lent, which we employ to denote the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. Still it has been used from the Anglo-Saxon period to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish, cuaresma), meaning the “forty days”, or more literally the “fortieth day”. This in turn imitated the Greek name for Lent, tessarakoste (fortieth), a word formed on the analogy of Pentecost (pentekoste), which last was in use for the Jewish festival before New Testament times. {1}

When does Lent begin and end?

The forty days of lent run from 12:01 a.m. on Ash Wednesday and ends at sun down Saturday the day Saturday before Easter.

Is Lent exactly forty days long as currently celebrated?

No, it’s actually a little longer than forty days. The number is approximative, for spiritual purposes.

This year it is 46 days. But see the next reply (46 days – 6 Sundays = 40 days).

Are the Sundays in Lent part of Lent?

Yes. See question 1 for the duration of Lent. It runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday. No exceptions are made for Sundays. The Sundays of this time of year are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Sundays of Lent. The Sixth Sunday, on which Holy Week begins, is called, “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.” {1}

Sundays, even during Lent, are a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and are not part of the penitential season. We rejoice in the resurrection of the Lord on Sundays. If you feel that forsaking your Lenten sacrifices on Sundays is like cheating then you are encouraged to maintain your sacrifices. {2} A person is certainly free to continue one’s Lenten sacrifices on Sundays, but the season is not requiring that. The traditional custom of giving up something for Lent is voluntary. Consequently, if you give something up, you set the parameters. If you choose to allow yourself to have it on Sundays as to promote joy on this holy day, that is up to you.

 

Why is the number forty significant?

Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.” (Mt 4:1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (Ex 34:28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (1 Kings19:8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter. {1}

What are the rules for fasting in Lent?

There are not rules from this Church. Lent is a voluntary observance. It is a choice and a way of guiding your own heart. The guiding principle of out Lenten season is to let our sacrifice guide our spirits back to Christ.

Some general guides for this season are seen in the ways listed above.

What can you do, really?

Your sacrifice needs to be just that. It needs to be the physical calling the heart of the spiritual into alignment.

Resources: (1) http://www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/are-sundays-a-part-of-lent/)(2)http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-lent1?gclid=CjwKCAiAnsnjBRB6EiwATkM1Xvl1S1CDNSZLMwme8qX82EveLvToejMx3R1OV3On3eiTvernz-gAqRoC_RgQAvD_BwE)

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