Five questions: Holy season
Q: What is the origin of Lent?
A: It is my understanding that the word Lent itself is derived from “lencten,” an Anglo Saxton term meaning spring. Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and, often overlooked, good works in preparation for the celebration of Easter. In Lent we recall our baptism, or the preparation for it, and Penance. In Lent we should place more emphasis on the liturgy and more frequently and devoutly hearing the word of God. The origins of Lent, while not precisely known, probably dates back to at least the year 200 A.D., if not earlier.
Q: What are the dates during which people participate in Lent?
A: Lent begins approximately four weeks before Easter on Ash Wednesday – Feb. 17 this year. The beginning of Lent is therefore based on the date of Easter, which is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after March 21. Lent concludes with the Easter tridium, which is a three-day event that begins at the Mass of the Holy Supper on Holy Thursday.
Q: What are a few common items you hear people give up for Lent each year?
A: What people give up for Lent is an individual choice. With a young child it may be a favorite candy or favorite show. For an adult it may be a food or drink, hopefully giving up something that will bring us closer to God. Often overlooked is the importance of the positive things that can be done that we can and should dedicate ourselves to.
Q: Why are Sundays generally not calculated in the Lent time period?
A: The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the 40 days because each Sunday is a “small Easter” — a belief in the celebration of Jesus’ victory over death. Fasting and abstinence are important in Lent, but so are prayer and works of charity and mercy – a feast of the resurrection.
Q: Why is Lent an important part of a person’s faith?
A: Lent is important for many of the reasons listed above, but in summary, it is important because it should bring us closer to our Lord, to the liturgy, to the word of God and to each other.