Sunday, February 14, 2010

Information about Lent

Lent is the time to prepare your heart and mind for Easter.
Simply put, historically, but not biblically, Lent is 40 days of fasting and prayer to think about all that Jesus gave up for us on the cross – his human life. Historically, in some churches, people chose to “give up” something that is personally important to them for the period of Lent (make a personal sacrifice). A reminder again of what Jesus gave for us. Some people gave up eating meat for Lent, while others would give up sweets. People may choose to give up a favorite regular activity or something else as a personal sacrifice. This tradition remains in some churches.
Lent is a time to think about our sins. To repent. A time to think on how we can become better Christian people.
In common practice, many people think of the entire time from Ash Wednesday to Easter as Lent, as the exclusion of Sundays is not widely publicized. (see below)

When does Lent begin?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

What is Ash Wednesday about?
In Bible times, people who repented of their sins sometimes wore sackcloth (rough, scratchy cloth) and dabbed themselves with ashes or sat in ashes (Isaiah 58:5 and Deuteronomy, 9:3 Jonah 3:6). Jesus himself talked about this form of showing being sorry for sins in both Matthew 11:21and Luke 10:13.
Catholic church history records a rite sometime between the year 500 and 600, the Spanish Mozarabic rite, where they made a sign on the forehead of a very, very ill person with ashes as a sign of acceptance into the order of Penitence. About another 500 years later, sometime in the 11th century, a man named Abbot Aelfric logged that it was customary for all believers to take part in a ceremony on the Wednesday before Lent that included ashes. In early use, ashes were dabbed on the foreheads of women in the sign of the cross, but men just had them sprinkled on them. Later in that century, Pope Urban II put ashes in use regularly on that day. Later this day came to be called Ash Wednesday. Over hundreds of years, the meaning and purpose of the ashes on Ash Wednesday changed. At one time, it was tied to baptism. In some churches this idea has been renewed. In some Catholic and Protestant churches today, some church members who were already baptized but want to renew their baptismal promises at Easter, began the process on Ash Wednesday, to think about moving away from sin towards a Christ-like life. Some other Protestant churches today consider Ash Wednesday as the beginning of Lent, the beginning of a time of Christian reflection and devotion, but do not use ashes.

Where do the ashes come from?
In some churches that distribute Palm fronds on Palm Sunday, sometimes the leftover palms are saved to be burned the following year to be used as the ashes used for Ash Wednesday services.

How long is Lent?
They say 40 days, but that answer needs some explanation:
In 2009
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Lent ends at Easter or Resurrection Sunday April 4, 2010

February has 28 days in 2009 , with 11 days from the 17th to the 28th.
There are 31 days in March before Easter.
There are 3 days in April before Easter.
11 + 31 + 3 = 45 days by calendar count!
Hmmm! That doesn’t sound like 40 days to me!
The answer is: You don’t count Sundays!

What is Holy Week?
Lent in many churches includes the Holy Days of Maunday Thursday (the last supper), Good Friday (the crucifixion) and Holy Saturday, the days immediately preceding Easter. This is commonly known as Holy Week.

Is Lent in the Bible?

Why is Lent 40 days long?
(Remember Lent is 40 days, not counting Sundays)
Historically, it is based on the time Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying and being tempted by the devil! See: Matthew 4:2 and Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2.

I hope that this information is helpful.

Peace and Love,

"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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