Lent is a religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for six weeks, ending before Easter Sunday. Lent is observed in the Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican Churches, as well as some Anabaptist and evangelical churches. The forty days signify the period Jesus spent in the desert, during which he was tempted by Satan.
History of Lent
The history of Lenten preparation in the church can be traced back to medieval times. Lent did not become formalized until 313 AD, when Christianity was legalized. In 373 AD, St. Athanasius called upon his congregation to observe a 40-day fast before the more serious fasting of the Holy Week in his "Festal Letters." Lent had been firmly established by the end of the 4th century, and fasting and prayer were considered its main spiritual practices. The number 40 had always held significance concerning spiritual preparation. For example, in the bible Moses resided on Mt. Sinai for 40 days while waiting for the Lord to deliver the ten commandments. The rules surrounding Lent were subsequently developed. One of the regulations was the continued fasting for six days in a single week for six weeks. Christians were instructed to enjoy one meal on one day, either at 3 p.m. or in the evening. However, the Lenten regulations have changed over time. While meat had been disallowed by most Churches, for example, it has since been embraced throughout the week except on Fridays and Ash Wednesday.
Practices During Lent
Lenten days are characterized by fasting on the part of believers from food and festivities. The three classical traditions are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. There are 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, but fasting is not observed on Sunday, thus excluding the six Sundays of Lent. Christians pray not only for themselves but also for other communities during this season. Believers also give up certain things or practices. A person may fast from social media, alcohol, snacks, or other vices. The practice of fasting is meant to remind Christians that whatever they possess is a blessing from God and to make them aware of those who may not have those hings. Almsgiving denotes service, and it requires Christians to heed to Christ's call of serving their neighbors. Some Christians have adopted the practice of channeling their money into charitable organizations in modern times.
Facts About Lent
There are several holy days during the Lenten season. Ash Wednesday is recognized as the first day of Lent in the Roman Rite, as well as in the traditions of nearly all mainline Reformed and Protestant denominations. However, Ash Wednesday is not observed in the Mozarabic Rite and the Ambrosian Rite. The fourth Sunday of the season is called Laetare Sunday by many Christians, including Roman Catholics and Anglicans. This Sunday is also referred to as Mothering Sunday or Mother's Day in the United Kingdom, and its origin can be traced to a celebration of the Mother Church in the 16th century. The fifth Lenten Sunday is called Passion Sunday by some denominations, and it signifies the beginning of Passiontide. The sixth Sunday is celebrated on Palm Sunday, and it represents the commencement of Holy Week. Other holy days include Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.
Priests in the Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic denominations wear violet vestments during Lent. Pink vestments can be worn instead of violet on the fourth Lenten Sunday. Priests of a section of Anglican Churches wear a kind of unbleached linen called "Lenten array" on the three initial weeks of the season, crimson is adorned during Passiontide, and on holy days the color suited to the day is worn.
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