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  • Writer's pictureAmy Trudell

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Let's Chat About...Lent



Lent: The Solemn Christian Religious Observance in the Liturgical Year commemorating the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent fasting and enduring temptation by Satan before Easter.


This blog touches on my religious beliefs as a Christian Catholic and what the Season of Lent means to me.



*Lent is observed by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodist, Presbyterian, Protestant and some other denominations.


*Lent Begins on Ash Wednesday and End on Easter Sunday.


The 3 main observances during lent include:

  1. Fasting

  2. Praying

  3. Almsgiving



Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Prayer and Fasting in many Western Denominations. This day marks the 6 weeks of penitence before Easter.


The ashes are placed on the foreheads of the faithful in the shape of a cross, as a sign of repentance and mortality. The ashes come from the burnt palms used on the previous Palm Sunday and are often mixed with holy water or oil.


Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. This includes the abstaining from eating meat and fasting by eating 1 regular meal and 2 small meals with nothing in between. In addition, Catholics also abstain from eating meat every Friday of Lent.




Fasting

  • Catholics abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday during Lent as a self-imposed penance. This is to remind us of the sacrifice that Christ went through during those 40 days in the desert.

  • People ages 18-59 and in reasonable heath are required to Fast during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (1 regular meal and 2 small meals without eating between meals)

  • People ages 14 and older and in reasonable health are required to Abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during lent.

  • Exemptions include people with physical or mental illness and pregnant or nursing women. "Common sense should prevail and no one should jeopardize their health".


Praying

  • Prayer offers us an opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and deepen our faith.

  • Prayer also gives us a chance to reflect on our sins and decision making.

  • By praying daily during lent, we come to appreciate the true meaning of Easter.

When I say my prayers at night I always start with the Lord's Prayer, and then I go through these 5 steps, and end with the Hail Mary.

  1. Thanks: List 5 things you are thankful for that happened that day.

  2. Reflection: Reflect on your decisions through the day. Did you do something good that you are happy about or did you make a bad choice, that are going to try and avoid in the future.

  3. Pray for others: My prayer for others is usually directed towards virtues such as peace, wisdom, strength and guidance to help manage the difficulties they are going through.

  4. Pray for myself: My prayer for myself is similar in that I ask for guidance to make good decisions the next day, and for peace in my relationships.

  5. God Moment: Find 1 thing that happened throughout your day where you really felt close to God and the Holy Spirit was present.


Almsgiving

  • The definition of Almsgiving is "The act of donating money, food or other items to people in need, especially as a spiritual practice".

  • It is considered a virtuous act aimed at helping the less fortunate.

  • In preparation for Easter, giving of ourselves to help others, prepares us spiritually by expressing the generosity exemplified by Jesus.


Some examples of Almsgiving include:

  1. Donating to your local food shelf

  2. Performing random acts of kindness

  3. Volunteer to help the elderly

  4. Tutor or provide care for a child

  5. Increase your donation at your local parish




Why Do Catholics Give Something Up For Lent?


  • Giving something up during the 40 days preparing for Easter is a sacrifice, similar to the denial of temptation that Jesus went through in the dessert.

  • What we choose to give up or deny ourselves is usually something that is bad for our mind, body or soul. Being vigilant and accountable helps us to be a better person.

  • An alternative to sacrificing something during lent may be adding something that is good for us. This could be something for our body, such as eating healthy and exercise. Or for our mind and soul, such as prayer, meditation and attending mass.

Some examples of things to give up:

  1. Type of Food (Candy, Chocolate, Junk Food, Caffeine, Soda)

  2. Bad Habits (Smoking/Vaping, Alcohol, Swearing, Social Media)


As a Catholic Faith, we refrain from saying the word Alleluia at mass during lent. Alleluia is a Hebrew word meaning "Praise Yahweh". It is a term of praise and great joy. During lent we focus on preparing for the Resurrection of Jesus rather than celebrating that he has already saved us.



I look forward to Ash Wednesday and Lent each year. Not only is it a reminder that Easter and Spring are right around the corner, but it also helps me to individually reset myself. I consider it a deep dive into my Spiritual and Mortal journey. What does lent mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


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