the real history of lent

the real history of lent


by Abbot Gueranger O.S.B. Both aspects of Lent deserve some explanation. There is no more pleasing love of God, as expiation, than the selfless love of others whom God puts into my daily life. Some regional churches fasted for one day, others for several days and still others for 40 hours (most likely based on the traditional belief that Christ lay for 40 hours in the tomb). The prohibition around milk and eggs gave rise to the tradition of Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday), which is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. Doing without some delicacy at table, or not eating between meals.

Here are but a few suggestions to prepare for Lent.

It is one of the most enduring seasons in the Christian liturgical calendar with some elements dating to perhaps earlier than the second century. He fasted 40 days to prepare for his public ministry and to testify that his gospel was from God. Therefore, whatever enables us to better understand Christ's Passion and Death, and deepens our responsive love for His great love toward us should be fostered during the Lenten season. “You could observe 1,000 Lents,” says Eric Ferris, founder of the Lent Experience, “and it won’t ever accomplish in your life what the cross of Jesus has.” Whether Christians observe Lent or not, what really matters is our embrace of Christ crucified and the empty tomb. In practicing penance, we should keep in mind that there are two levels of reparation we are to practice, for our own and other people's sins.

We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Gregory is also credited with initiating the practice that gave the first day of Lent its name, Day of Ashes or simply, Ash Wednesday. And fasting means partaking of only one full meal, with snacks or smaller meals allowed at two other times through the day. Less time spent in eating, or eating less food, or getting up earlier than usual. Beginning about six weeks before Easter, Lent is a time traditionally set aside for fasting, prayer, and reflection in preparation to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But in every case, the fast was strict: one meal a day after 3 PM with no meat, fish, or dairy. To begin the season of fasting and repentance, Gregory marked the foreheads of his congregation with ashes, a biblical symbol for penance.

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. During the early days of the Church, the observance of fast was very strict.

The forty days' fast, which we call Lent,[1] is the Church's preparation for Easter, and was instituted at the very commencement of Christianity. The present legislation of Canon Law is as follows: According to the apostolic constitution of Pope Paul VI (1966), "the law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. In the Lutheran Church, Lent remained an important part of the lectionary, but was fully voluntary with regard to individual observance, whereas in the Catholic Church it remained a “Sacred Tradition,” with the force of church law behind it. In the Catholic Church, for example, the number of obligatory fasting days decreased incrementally from six days a week to three, and then eventually, to just two in the whole season of Lent: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

One meal was allowed per day and, even in that meal, meat and fish were forbidden. Calvin argued that Jesus taught no specific times of fasting. Yet, in spite of a turbulent church history, to say nothing of the ebb and flow of human migration, the rise of kingdoms, the decline of empires, the essence of Lent remains largely unchanged from its earliest history. As a fairly recent student of the history of Lent, I wondered, “How can I tell a succinct story of Lent?” in the context of the vast history of the Christian Church, spanning nearly two millennia, with all its schisms, reformations, counter-reformations, and revivals. Some Christians fasted every day during Lent; others, every other week only.

Pilgrims to Jerusalem would retrace the steps that Christ walked on His way to Calvary, stopping at specific points to pray.

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This is the six and one half week period that lasts from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. They condemned Lent as “man’s” tradition and a works-based vanity.

Returning to a long-held custom within the church, the Second Vatican Council re-established the three days before Easter as a separate holy time apart from Lent proper. Chapels and markers (first referred to as Stations of the Cross around 1460) decorated with scenes of the Passion were erected in monasteries and in numerous cities to allow for miniature pilgrimages. It was another two centuries before the Council of Nicea tackled St. Irenaeus’ issues head-on.

Now images of the Stations of the Cross appear in almost all Catholic churches and are an integral part of many Lenten worship services. On this day Christians would feast on the foods they were required to abstain from during Lent — gorging before the fast as it were — and pancakes became a popular meal for using up all the eggs and milk.

By deciding before Lent, what form(s) of charity I will practice towards those with whom I live or work.
Gradually an extra collation was allowed in the evening.

Council records suggest that the fast applied at first mainly to new converts as a period of repentance and reflection before baptism at Easter. In any case, Lent quickly became a general practice churchwide. By the 1400s, Christians had begun eating the one meal earlier in the day, and later began to add a smaller meal to keep up their strength for work. It was also a reminder to early Christians of their mortality (“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19) and the need to prepare for the afterlife. In recent years, Lent has resurged in importance among mainline Protestant churches and has even seen renewal among evangelicals. It was Pope Gregory I (590 - 604) who finally regularized the period of the fast churchwide, to begin on a Wednesday 46 days before Easter with a ceremony of ash, and not to include Sundays, which were perennial days of celebration. Given that no fasting was to occur on Sundays — as Sunday was viewed as a weekly memorial of the Resurrection and therefore a day of celebration, not fasting — six weeks of fasting added up to 36 days, not 40. (1914-2000) was a tireless apostle of the Catholic faith. By going through the spiritual and corporal works or mercy, and selecting one or more on which I wish to concentrate during Lent, as my form of penance-as-love, offered to the loving but offended God. The six weeks of Lent are a period for reflection and fasting - … The great evangelist Charles Spurgeon summed up the evangelical distrust of Lent with these words from 1885: “It is as much our duty to reject the traditions of men, as to observe the ordinances of the Lord. The author of over twenty-five books including Spiritual Life in the Modern World, Catholic Prayer Book, The Catholic Catechism, Modern Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholic Dictionary, Pocket Catholi Catechism, Q & A Catholic Catechism, Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan and hundreds of articles, Father Hardon was a close associate and advisor of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. In every tradition, however, the act of “giving something up” has remained strong. In a time that some call the “post-Christian era,” many evangelicals have gained a new appreciation for the Church Liturgical Calendar, and for a season to reflect on their need for the cross and to prepare their hearts to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. From pro-life prayer to eco-friendly fasting, there are plenty of ways of marking Lent. When the Crusades in the Middle Ages prevented such sacred journeys to the Holy Land, the Via Crucis was reproduced in different parts of Europe. Would you like to learn more about Lent? February 12, 2009 ; Tweet . While some Protestants continued to observe Lent, such as the Lutherans, some like the newly emerged Calvinists criticized the annual rite, claiming there was no scriptural basis for it.

But the math wasn’t quite right.

Lent begins on Wednesday, March 6 and ends on Thursday, April 18, the day before Good Friday. It is also recommended that those 14 and over abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent.

If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you. Earliest observances of Lent seem to have focused particularly on the practice of fasting. Although not strictly obligatory, the observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended by the Church. Lent is the period of forty days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar, traditionally a time of fasting and reflection. Love of Jesus Crucified. They relied upon the scriptures alone to understand God’s plan of salvation. So, how to tell the short version of a very long history? The traditional 40-day Lenten fast begins on Ash Wednesday, excludes Sundays and carries through to the night before Easter.

The length of time varied. Known as the Easter or Sacred Triduum, this three-day period begins with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday and concludes at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, which is when the Easter season begins. But over the years, Lent has become less strict in almost every western tradition. By doing our ordinary work with more selfless love for God. This recommendation applies to the Marian Catechists. Writing in 1536, John Calvin charged that Lenten practices were not a true imitation of Christ. For many of them and their progeny in the faith, Lent smacked of righteousness by works. On the second level, our penance should strive to endure some pain in order to expiate the sinful pleasure that is always the substance of sin. We are to expiate the guilt incurred by failing in one's love for God.

Grand Rapids, MI 49508 The canons emerging from that council also referenced a 40-day Lenten season of fasting. It digs deep into the significance and resonance of Christ’s words from the Cross as you prepare your heart for Easter. And fasting meant one meal a day, normally taken in the mid-afternoon. Meditation on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion. Walking, instead of driving, and walking upstairs instead of using an elevator.

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And walking the Stations of the Cross (also called the Way of the Cross or Via Crucis) is a Lenten devotion that dates back to the fourth century. You might also be interested in a special devotional series, called Focus on the Cross, fromour sister ministry, Today, a daily devotional published by ReFrame Media, one of the partner ministries that bring you Groundwork. Council records suggest that the fast applied at first mainly to new converts as a period of repentance and reflection … Today the Catholic Code of Canon Law requires those 18 to 59 years of age to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening.".

Considering the excesses of the Catholic Church in the years leading up to the explosion of the Reformation, the reformers’ wariness of works-based, or showy, practices is understandable. Assembled by the Roman Emperor Constantine in 325, bishops at Nicea developed a complex formula that placed the date for Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring. User Experience Design by Five Q Other historical records indicate that a pre-Easter season of fasting, had actually been in practice already, as far back as the second century, and perhaps even earlier. This provision certainly applies to Marian Catechists who are in a position to educate young people "in an authentic sense of penance.".

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