The Antlers American

What is Lent and why is it important


Each year Christians embark on spiritual journeys that culminate with Easter celebratio­ns. Easter is preceded by a period of six weeks that begins on Ash Wednesday in Western churches and ends the Thursday before Easter Sunday. In Eastern churches only, Lent begins on the Monday of the seventh week before Easter and ends on the Friday nine days before Easter.

During Lent, Christians participat­e in fasting, repentance, self-denial, spiritual discipline, and other preparatio­ns for Easter. According to the resource Learn Religions, the Lenten season was establishe­d to serve as a time for reflection on Jesus Christ, particular­ly to be more aware of his suffering and sacrifice.

On Ash Wednesday, some Christians mark their foreheads with ashes made from palm fronds, as symbols of sorrow and mourning for their sins.

Periods of fasting and abstinence also are part of Lenten observance­s. The fasting likely serves as an imitation of Jesus Christ’s fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and nights before beginning his public ministry. During that time, Christ was tempted by Satan and wrestled with temptation.

During Lent, individual­s also prepare simple meals and avoid ingredient­s that would be considered luxurious. In accordance with that, Fridays during Lent are set aside as meat-free (including poultry) since meat long has been considered an indulgence. Furthermor­e, people often ‘give up’ something they enjoy, whether it’s sweets, alcohol or celebrator­y behaviors. Sundays throughout Lent are excluded from the fasting and abstinence requiremen­ts because they are times to enjoy Mass, which is a celebratio­n. Therefore, if one gave up chocolate for Lent, he or she can enjoy it on Sunday.

Lent is supposed to be a time of repentance, but not shame. Instead, sinners seek cleansing from their sins and contemplat­e what the Lord did when He sacrificed himself on the cross. Protestant­s also take part in Lent, but Catholic churches are particular­ly associated with the more well-known Lenten requiremen­ts.

Parishione­rs may notice that Mass is different during Lent. The Gloria, a prayer normally used after the penitentia­l rite near the beginning of the service, is omitted. Furthermor­e, suppressio­n of the word ‘Alleluia’ also occurs, and any hymns containing the word ÒAlleluiaÓ are avoided.

In 2023, among Western churches, Lent begins on Wednesday, February 22 and ends on Thursday, April 6. Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 9, 2023.

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