From the Latin quadragesima, Lent is known as the liturgical period of preparation for Easter. Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday, is a time of penance for the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church and certain evangelical churches.
It could be said that Lent is the period of forty days before Easter. This figure (the forty days) has an important symbolism according to different fragments of the Bible, such as the forty-day retreat that Jesus made in the desert and the retreat of Moses in the desert for the same number of days. The biblical flood, on the other hand, lasted forty days, while the Jewish people marched forty years through the desert.
In Christianity, Lent is the period leading up to Easter.
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Meaning and practices of Lent
The Church regards Lent as a time of repentance, expiation of guilt (for sins committed), and of conversion. The faithful must strengthen their faith to draw closer to Christ through acts of reflection and penance.
The traditional practices of Lent, with fasting and abstinence, date back to the fourth century. It began as part of a period of renewal for the Church and is still preserved in much of the world. However, the penances are becoming less rigorous, especially in Western countries. Fasting should consist of a single daily meal, while abstinence means not eating meat.
Beyond fasting, Lent can be lived through the sacrament of Confession, prayer and positive attitudes.
Forty days of penance
It is worth mentioning that this period was changing over the years. At first its duration was not fixed, but was made up of a couple of weeks, sometimes longer and sometimes less, in which people tried to get closer to holiness through actions that were believed could make them better children of God.. But in the fourth century, this duration was fixed at 40 days and has remained unchanged ever since.
Currently Lent is made up of six weeks, prior to Easter Sunday. The reason why this structure was established is that, since Sunday is the day of the Lord, in which fasting cannot be performed, in order for the penance to cover 40 days it was necessary to add four more days to the amount that formed Lent in its origins. Thus being able to imitate those 40 days of fasting of Christ in the desert. Thus, Lent is made up of forty days that go from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday, discounting Sundays.
Colorful eggs, an Easter tradition.
It is important to point out that in ancient times this period was closely related to the time of renewal of the earth, that is, with the agricultural calendar. Therefore, the position of the sun and the moon were taken into account; maintaining that custom, today the first day of Lent is counted after the Sunday following the first full moon of northern spring, in the Northern Hemisphere.
Holy Week, the end of Lent
The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week ; On these days, penance becomes even more intense and the faithful must carry out as many acts of purification as they can to approach that perfection theoretically preached by the Church.
In many countries during these days processions and celebrations of all kinds are held in which religious life is promoted. Unfortunately, while the church urges its followers to fast and become good people, on the other hand it continues to be in favor of inequality and does not collaborate to build a more just life for all, believers and non-believers.