What is the tradition of Lent? Why is the number 40 significant to the celebration of Lent? How did this tradition get its name? These questions and more are just a few of the things non-Catholics ad non-Christians would like to know. Interestingly, the Christian and Catholic religions have a lot of traditions and practices with exact origins, including the celebration of the Lenten season.
What is Lent?
Lent refers to that 40-day period which comes before the Easter based on the Christian calendar. This period happens as a time to reflect on the importance of Easter and to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Christians usually pray, pay penance and fast during this time. Believers surrender luxury and vice as a form of sacrifice in a reflection of the time when Jesus Christ deprived Himself of comforts in the wilderness.
Why is self-discipline important during Lent?
Self-discipline is important during this season for believers to despise material comfort and wealth during Lent. The Catholic Church believes that penance and fasting can purify the heart, making it prepared to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Without self-discipline, believers will have difficulty reflecting on their sins and asking forgiveness so they can receive the grace of God and experience personal transformation.
Why is the number 40 significant for the Lenten season?
If you are going to ask where did the tradition of Lent come from, then you should know why number 40 is important. This figure is significant in the Christian gospel for the following reasons:
- In Genesis, Noah’s ark was made to survive the flood that destroyed the world. The flood was said to have lasted within forty days and nights.
- Scripture says the Israelites roamed the wilderness for 40 years before they found God’s promise land.
- Jesus Christ had stayed in the desert before he began his ministry. His contemplation away from the world prepared him to save humanity.
- Moses did not eat and drink for 40 days in Mount Sinai in preparation for his mission to receive the Ten Commandments.
Aside from these, Lent is the Latin word which means fortieth. The number 40 is significant to many events that transpired in the Bible as mentioned above which showed repentance, mortification of the flesh, penance, prayer, self-denial, and almsgiving.
What are the practices related to the Lenten Season?
Use of anything purple – The darkest shade of purple is used but the Christian Church to symbolize the state of soul when it still lacks the light of Christ, it is also a color of repentance. Purple decorations adorn churches during this time as a reminder for believers to pray and repent.
- Fasting – Fasting is a way to revive one’s relationship with God. The Old and New Testament mentions how fasting can help believers get attuned to the gospel of God.
- Confessions – Since Lent is a season of cleansing; confessions are a way to show that believers acknowledge their sins and are sorry for it. Without confessing, the cleansing of the soul will not be complete.
There are so much more one could write on Lent, or the teachings in general. We’ve provided a video on the core teachings of the Catholic Church to aid in your exploration of the Catholic faith, or various aspects of it.