Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I experienced Lent as a strong discipline to better my life. “What are you giving up for Lent?” The answers from my non-believer friends were “homework” or “obey the parents” or “saving money for rainy days.” Lent is one of those practices demanded of Roman Catholics to which non-Catholic believers may say, “Another great reason to be Protestant!” It never really occurred to my friends that Lent was something interesting, or beneficial, to a better understand our connection with God.
One day, I sat thinking of the many reason and faces of this season, and upon doing some research I discovered that Lent is in fact also recognized by millions of Protestant Christians, in addition to Catholic and Orthodox believers. The Eastern Orthodox Lent is longer than the Catholic or Protestant Lent, and it begins before Ash Wednesday.
Everything in life has its own time. There is time to celebrate and there is time to mourn. This is the time for reflection and transformation. Let us look within and change into what we ought to be ~ Aaron Saul
The word “lent” comes from the Middle English word for “spring.” It is traditionally a six-week season in the Christian year prior to Easter. Technically, Lent comprises the 40 days before Easter, not counting the Sundays (or 46 days in total). In the ancient church, Lent was a time for new converts to be instructed for baptism and for believers caught in sin to focus on repentance.
In time, all Christians came to see Lent as a season to be reminded of their need for penitence and to prepare spiritually for the celebration of Easter. Part of this preparation involved the Lenten “fast,” giving up something special during the six weeks of Lent (but not on Sundays, in some traditions.)
Historically, many Protestants rejected the practice of Lent, pointing out, truly, that it was nowhere required in Scripture. Some of these Protestants were also the ones who refused to celebrate Christmas, by the way. They wanted to avoid some of the excessive aspects of Catholic penitence that tended to obscure the Gospel of Grace. These Protestants saw Lent, at best, as something completely optional for believers, and, at worst, as a superfluous Catholic practice that true believers should avoid altogether.
Let me add a pastoral note, at this point, that if you think of Lent as a season to earn God’s favor by your good intentions or good works, then you’ve got a theological problem. God’s grace has been fully given to us in Christ. We can’t earn it by doing extra things, or by giving up certain things in fasting.
Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life… ~ Pope Benedict XVI
If you see Lent as a time to make yourself more worthy for celebrating Good Friday and Easter, then perhaps you shouldn’t keep the season, until you’ve grown in your understanding of grace. If, on the contrary, you see Lent as a time to grow more deeply in God’s grace, then you’re approaching Lent from the proper perspective.
Today, on Easter Sunday, I am inviting you to look into the real meaning of this season, which is the preparation to better ourselves, and to free our minds and hearts from all those deep hidden fears and shadows. As a practicing Catholic, I know that Heaven is within ourselves: when we know we tried hard; did our best to help someone; cared for a lost one; healed a broken body or heart; and most of all forgiven those who caused us deep pain.
May you have a Joyous Easter with much peace, joy and love.
| PsychicAccess.com.Mariella is a New York resident, born in Italy, who began accurately reading at the age of eleven with just an ordinary deck of playing cards. She’s since designed her own deck of Tarot cards as well as a unique time board that provides clients with startlingly accurate time frames for her predictions. For a reading with this warm, funny, and highly detailed Clairvoyant and Empath, you can find Mariella at |
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