HISTORY OF LENT AND WHY 40 DAYS

The Catholic TV monthly magazine had an article about the History of Lent. I thought maybe some of you might be interested:

History of Lent-what did fasting used to look like: The Lenten season, preparation for Easter, has been observed from the onset of Christ’s Church, although there have been inconsistencies with duration and practices.  The Council of Nicea, 325AD, established Easter’s fluid date as the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. In 461 AD, Pope St. Leo established the duration as 40 consecutive days before Easter. Pope Gregory the Great, in the sixth century, added the dispensing of ashes the preceding Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), making Lent 46 days. Sundays were considered feast days and not included in the count. (However, my mother informed us kids that if we gave up Movies for Lent we could not go on Sundays, or it wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. Connie)

Initially, all forms of meat, fish and animal products were excluded for the entirety of Lent. People were allowed one meal per day, after 3 pm. In the 1400’s that time was revised to noon. Eventually, a small snack was included to sustain energy. Over time, fish, meat and eventually dairy products were allowed. However, fasting was require all 40 days. It wasn’t until 1966 that fast days were lessened to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only. (Now, we give up meat on Fridays during Lent, along with Ash Wednesday)

WHY 40 DAYS????The number 40 has ecclesial significance: Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai before receiving the Ten Commandments; Jesus spent 40 days in prayer and fasting prior to beginning his ministry. So, too, we spend 40 days preparing to do God’s work.

WHY  DO WE HAVE PENITENTIAL SEASONS?  (This is a question many Christians ask Catholics, who quite often don’t know the answer) Jesus gave the example of a penitential retreat, spending prayerful time in the desert preparing for His ministry, reflecting on God’s will and determining how He’d freely make that happen. Penitential seasons offer us this same opportunity to withdraw from our routines and evaluate our spiritual progress or regression. We do this through reflection and repentance, which enable us to identify our weaknesses and make reparation to amend our sinful ways. Penitential seasons create time to reflect on our need to make God the focal point of our lives. The result can be spiritually rewarding. (Many Catholics spend extra time in prayer. Go to extra Masses, the Stations of the Cross, and other spiritual reading during Lent)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES FOR LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

All Catholics, ages 14 and up, are bound by the law of abstinence. Abstinence means refraining from the consumption of meat (land animals) on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Why Friday? To unite ourselves with Jesus’ sacrifice, made for us on Good Friday.

All Catholics, ages 18-59, are to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting is defined as eating one full, meatless meal on prescribed days. Bits of food can be taken at other traditional meal times though their combined total should not equal a full meal.

Penitential practices, like fasting and abstinence, are intended to refocus our thoughts and intentions toward God. Lent’s 40 days include Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday (the Lenten fast continues until Holy Saturday), not including Sundays. Sundays are optional but encouraged. For health reasons, the infirm, ill, and pregnant or nursing mothers are exempt.

Three other Lenten disciplines are prayer (daily conversation with the Lord) fasting (from behaviors which detract from our relationship with God) and  almsgiving (sharing our resources, ensuring the basic needs of human dignity).

I WILL ADD; many Catholics like to go to the  Stations of the Cross usually on Friday if it is available in their Churches. The Stations of the Cross actually started before the Crusades when Christian were free to go to Jerusalem.  I read where they used to journey from Rome and Europe to Israel to follow the footsteps of Jesus to the Cross. Much like people do now. Then when the Muslims took over the Holy Lands and the Christians could not go there, they started setting up outdoor statues or pictures of what we now call the Passion of Christ. From the Last Supper to the capture in the garden, the whippings and crown of thorns thru the town, past the women, and when he had help carrying the cross and when He was nailed to the cross. Now Catholic Churches have pictures or carvings on the wall that go around the church, 14 stations showing the Passion of Jesus.  People say prayers at each station and they are called the Stations of the Cross.  It follows the story of His Passion in the Bible Gospels. Usually on Good Friday, when possible, the Stations are said at 3PM, the time that Jesus died.

GIVING ALMS: During Lent as with other times of the year, but especially during Lent, we can give up something we spend money on, coffee, candy, movies, whatever, and give that money to the poor. Examples; the Salvation Army, Local Food Cupboards or you can look up Catholic Relief Services (CRS) or Catholic Charities for example, all these organizations help people who are desperate for help.  Catholics have what we call a “Rice Bowl” we put on the table or somewhere in our home where everyone can drop money in, on Easter we put the money in an envelope marked RICE BOWL put it in the collection basket,and the Church sends all the money to Catholic Relief Services to feed the poor in other countries.  You can look up CRS Rice Bowl on line: http://www.crsricebowl.org. To get more information. Catholics have been donating to CRS for many years. They are all over the world helping and teaching the poor how to  feed and support themselves and they are at places of devastation like Haiti helping people to recover and start over.

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THE CELEBRATION OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD  “Christ’s execution notice became with paradoxical unity the ‘confession of faith,’ the real starting point and rooting-point of the Christian faith, which holds Jesus to be the Christ: as the crucified criminal this Jesus is the Christ, the King. His crucifixion is his coronation: his coronation or kingship is his surrender of himself to men, the identification of word, mission, and existence in the yielding up of this very existence.  His existence is thus his word. From the cross faith understands in increasing measure that this Jesus did not just do and say something; that in him message and person are identical, that he always already is what he says.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

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HYMN: Were you there when the crucified my Lord? Were you there when the crucified my Lord? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Where you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? Were you there when they nailed him to the tree? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? Were you there when they pierced him in the side? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Were you there when the sun refused to shine? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble tremble. Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

Wee you there when they laid him in the tomb? Were you there when they laid him in the tome? Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

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O Lord our God, your Son Jesus Christ did not refuse death for the salvation of the world. Strengthen your people in faith, hope, and love to live the mystery of the cross into which we have been baptized, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD

ON THIS DAY THE CHURCH RECALLS THE ENTRANCE OF CHRIST THE LORD INTO JERUSALLEM TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PASCAL MYSTERY.

DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS

Since the beginning of Lent until now we have prepared our hearts by penance and charitable works. Today we gather together to herald with the whole Church the beginning of the celebration of our Lord’s Paschal Mystery, that is to say, of his Passion and Resurrection, For it was to accomplish this mystery that he entered his own city of Jerusalem. Therefore, with all faith and devotion, let us commemorate the Lord’s entry into the city for our salvation, FOLLOWING IN HIS FOOTSTEPS so that, being made by his grace partakers of the Cross, we may have a share also in his RESURRECTION and in his life.

LET US PRAY:  Increase the faith of those who place their hope in you, O God, and graciously hear the prayers of those who call on you, that we, who today hold high these branches to hail Christ in his triumph, may bear fruit for you by good works accomplished in him. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen

GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

LENT-GOOD FRIDAY, THE DAY JESUS DIED

HE HAS FORGIVEN YOU ALL YOUR SINS:  Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over His own head on the Cross.  And then, having disarmed all the powers ranged against us, HE exposed them–shattered, empty, and defeated–in HIS final glorious triumphant act.   (Colossians 2:13b-15)

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When we were younger we used to try to be silent from 12 noon to 3PM on Good Friday. Why, that is when Jesus was nailed to the cross until he died at 3PM.  TRY IT, IT IS NOT EASY TO BE SILENT FOR 3 HRS.     IF YOU LIVE NEAR A CATHOLIC CHURCH, CHECK IT OUT TO FIND OUT IF THEY ARE HAVING “THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS”  AT 3PM.  MOST DO, IF THEY CAN.  It is interesting and heart breaking to see and listen to what Jesus went through in the14 stations as the people follow what HE went through. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate Christ’s suffering and us remembering that HE died for us.

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“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” (Jn 19:25)

PRAY THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS TODAY. ASK FOR THE INTERCESSION OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF OUR LORD JESUS.