Lent, which is also referred to as the Lenten season and Great Lent, is a time to remind us of Jesus’ 40 day trial of fasting and temptation in the wilderness. The season of Lent is a forty day long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter, but in today’s society the question arises is Lent still defined this way or has the definition changed.
The Lenten season occurs immediately after the festival of Epiphany. Liturgically, Lent lasts for 48 days starting on Ash Wednesday before the Paschal Triduum. Traditionally, the Lenten fast is observed for 40 days beginning on Ash Wednesday through Holy Week. Sunday’s were excluded from the Lenten fast because Sunday is a feast of the resurrection of our Lord. However, the Sunday’s of Lent are still a part of the Lenten liturgical season in the Western Church and the worship services tend to be more subdued. The Gloria and the joyous “Alleluias!” are not spoken during Lent until Easter season. The liturgical color of Lent is violet and symbolizes royalty and remorse. To show a state of mourning, on Maundy Thursday the altar is stripped down and on Good Friday the altars and pastors are dressed in black.
Churches have not gone completely off course with their teachings of Lent. Lent is supposed to help us prepare for the resurrection of our Lord and it does symbolize Christ’s trial of fasting and temptation in the wilderness. The problem is not the teachings of the Church but, how the members of the Church practice Great Lents traditions and the dismissal of the five points of Lents true purpose.
The five points of the seasons true purpose are fasting, spiritual growth, self-denial, conversion, and simplicity. These five points are something that can help benefit or even generate certain aspects of a renewed Christian life. Since the season of Lent is a time for renewal it seems appropriate to discuss the many aspects of a renewed Christian life. These aspects include servanthood, obedience, witness, true religion, priorities, godly fear, unity, faith and hope.
Lent has five basic tasks that go along with the season; fasting, reading scripture, reading Church writings, almsgiving, and prayer. The five basic tasks of Lent are what make Lent truly pure. Although the requirements of these tasks can vary depending on what religion the person belongs to, all of these things are good tasks to carry out.
There are people who would argue that these things are not special but should be ordinary tasks year round. Earthly influences are too strong for even the strongest in faith, for someone to take up all these tasks at once it would take tremendous discipline. Fortunately, Lent has been set for a measured period of time for us mortals who fall in to temptation easily. A perfect example of this statement can be found in the scripture reference 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41...