What Is Lent And Why Is It Important?
Lent is a Catholic fasting and penance period which start in late February. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday. In Catholicism, Ash Wednesday is spiritually significant. During mass on Ash Wednesday the faithful get a cross of ashes placed on their foreheads.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Pope Gelasius I instituted this feast to honor Bishop Thaddeus of Ephesus. His feast day is celebrated on the Tuesday of Lent, which was the first week of Lent.
The Catholic Church celebrates the Triduum, which is Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil.
The eschatological significance of this date has influenced much of Catholic tradition. St. Augustine states that this day is a day of preparation before the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ.
When Catholics started celebrating Ash Wednesday, they made this day into a pagan holiday. But they eventually changed it into a more spiritually significant one.
Many Catholics around the world enjoy parades, concerts, dances, and other forms of entertainment for Easter. Some have even begun to build large screens which display films and shows in preparation for the Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
But, despite the overall spiritual significance of Ash Wednesday, there is a certain part of the Catholic calendar that is less spiritual and more “secular” in nature. This is the Lenten period, when Catholics are forced to spend a significant amount of time working, fasting, and performing penance.
Those who are not Catholic can have a tough time trying to understand why fasting, practicing penance, and working on their farms would be considered sinful. In order to explain this, St. John Chrysostom wrote that these practices were practiced by the early Church in order to help keep them from falling prey to the world’s evil.
Because Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, it becomes a time for Christians to reflect on their faith and its importance. This is particularly true for Catholics who adhere to a strict schedule of fasting, praying, and alms giving.
Catholics are encouraged to do whatever they can to avoid temptation, especially during Lent. For many people, this is a difficult time of year, but with a little understanding, it can be a time of renewal and spiritual growth.