It’s that time again! Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, and it’s even more exciting than usual here at the University of Illinois! Bishop Daniel Jenky (he has a blog too!) of our Diocese, Peoria, will be saying the 5:00 mass for us here at St. John’s Chapel at the Newman Center. I’m going to go really early so I can get a good front row seat!
So what is lent about? Where does it come from? I really can’t do a better job than Fr. William Saunders does here, so check it out! I can summarize, though 😉
Lent is a time of prayer, penance, sacrifice, and good works for Christians in anticipation for Easter. Christians practiced some sort of lenten fast as early as 203 AD. After Christianity was legalized in the Roman Empire in 313, it became more organized as 40 days of fasting. And why 40? 40 is a pretty special number to Christians. We think of the 40 years of Moses and the Israelites in the desert waiting to be allowed to go to the promised land, Jesus going off before his ministry to fast for 40 days and be tempted by the devil, and before Moses received the 10 commandments he fasted for 40 days on Mount Sinai. So it seems like 40 days is a good way to prepare for such a special time like celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter. Did you know that Sundays and Solemnities you don’t have to do your lenten promises? Those are still days of joy and celebration!
So as you can see, we give up meat on Fridays and other things in order to prepare ourselves for the Lord. I’d suggest “giving up” or doing something that will actually help you grow closer to the Lord, and to go through with your promise even if it is hard. Maybe giving up ice cream this year won’t actually help that, but maybe saying your prayers every day will.
Have a blessed lent!