What is Lent?


What is Lent?

Lent is a 40 day period starting on Ash Wednesday that lasts until Easter Sunday
(not counting the six Sundays between those two dates) when believers prepare for
Easter through self-denial and repentance, endeavor for personal piousness, and
remember the passion and death of Jesus Christ.
The number 40 appears frequently in the Bible; Moses fasted for 40 days in
Mount Sinai; Elijah fasted for 40 days on the way to the mount of God; Israelites spent
40 days in the wilderness; Jesus was tempted after fasting 40 days in the wilderness.
We witness 40 in Noah's 40-day flood, the event that Jonah warned the impending
judgment of God after 40 days in Nineveh, 40 days from resurrection to ascension of
Jesus. In other words, 40 is a significant number that signify suffering and renewal.
The original meaning of Lent is a time of preparation and training for the people
who were to be baptized on Easter Sunday. In the early Church, people naturally had a
training period in which they prepared to be baptized on Easter; this period is Lent.
Baptismal candidates were required to fast during this period, and later, this act of
fasting was requested of the entire congregation.
Over the course of time, Lent has emphasized solemn worship and the pious
lives of Christians regardless of baptism and it became a period of self-abasement and
repentance, following the example of the kenosis love of Christ on the cross. Thus, Lent
should be a season of love when Christians meditate on the amazing love of God that
was revealed through Jesus Christ and not extinguish this flame of love. When we have a
deep meditation on this love, we should not lose focus but receive spiritual and pious
When Christians, however, have piousness and spiritual training, they might run
into a problem. When they try to reveal their self-righteousness, they will face a crisis in
their faith. Thus, rather than a literal period in which they focus only on the physical
suffering of Christ, Lent should be a spiritual period in which believers embody the
meaning of the passion of Christ as depicted by authors of the Bible and reflect the
meaning in their life.
As one of the most important seasons, along with Easter in the church year, Lent
contains the core of the Gospel. If Easter connotes brightness and life, the preceding
season, Lent, embodies darkness and death. The message of the Gospel is the good
news of purifying our sin, perishing the power of death, and gaining a new life through
Jesus by his blood shed on the cross. At its simplest, the Gospel signifies the cross and
resurrection. However, just as the order of Lent and Easter cannot be altered, the order
of cross and resurrection cannot be reversed either. One of the most critical problems in
modern day Christians is their sole focus on the glorious resurrection without looking at
the suffering of the cross.
The words of Cicero are often quoted, when he spoke of crucifixion as "that
most cruel and disgusting penalty." We should perhaps notice also the words of the
Jewish writer Josephus who spoke of it as "the most wretched of deaths." It was that
death, the most dreaded death in the ancient world, the death of slaves and criminals,
that Jesus died. This death of Jesus is the love of God for us and through this death
God gave a life to us. . In order for Christians to fully savor the joy of resurrected life on
Easter, they must meditate on the meaning of Jesus' death during the season of Lent.
Ash Wednesday
The first day of Lent is called Ash Wednesday from the custom that prevailed in
the early Church of sprinkling ashes on the heads of penitents on the first day of Lent, in
token of repentance for sin.

Passion Sunday
The fifth Sunday in Lent is known as Passion Sunday, because it marks the
beginning of Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent. These two weeks specifically
commemorate the Passion of Jesus, or His experiences following the Last Supper.

Passiontide refers to a two week period from Passion Sunday to Holy Saturday.
It is the last two weeks of Lent.

Palm Sunday
The sixth Sunday of Lent, the last Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday. It
commemorates Jesus' entry to Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

Holy Week, or Passion Week
Palm Sunday leads to Holy Week. It is the last week of Lent followed by Easter.
Commemorating the passion of Christ - him being arrested, tried by Pilate, and crucified,
it is the climax of the Lenten period. Holy Week may properly be called the very center
of the Christian Year.

Three Minor Days
The first half of Holy Week is called Three Minor Days. It is Monday, Tuesday,
and Wednesday of Holy Week.
Triduum, The Paschal Triduum, or The Easter Triduum
Triduum is also called The Easter Triduum. Based on Jewish concept of the start
of a day, which counts from sunset to sunrise, it begins from the evening of Maundy
Thursday and lasts until the evening of Easter Sunday. Triduum commemorates the
passion of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. It is the summit of the Church
Calendar which includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday
Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, is a corruption of the Latin word
mandati meaning "of the commandment," and refers to the command "This do in
remembrance of me" spoken by Jesus in regard to His breaking of the bread and
drinking of the wine at the Last Supper. Mandy Thursday commemorates the event of
the Last Supper.
According to the Synoptic Gospel, the Last Supper was the Passover meal and
John records that Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover. It is also the day that
Jesus washed the feet of disciples according to John.

Good Friday, or Holy Friday
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, probably known originally as God's Friday,
commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It commemorates the series of events that
Jesus was arrested, tried, suffered and crucified. Paradoxically it also celebrates the
Good News of the cross. The cross of Christ was not a failure but victory. Salvation came
to all sinners as it is a day to preach the Good News of the cross, the blessed good news,
the news of victory. This day, therefore, is called Good Friday.

Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday is the day that Jesus rested in the tomb. It is also the Jewish
Sabbath. Traditionally Church has emphasized and meditated the redemptive passion
and death of Christ on this day. Especially this day is traditionally a day of fasting
together with Good Friday. Whole congregations were requested to participate in
fasting. It is also the last day of Baptismal education in preparing those who are to be
baptized in the dawn or morning of Easter Sunday.