Lent is 40 days because we remember how in the Gospels that Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days before beginning His ministry (Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4: 1-11). In lent we also call to mind how Israel was stranded in the desert for 40 years after sinning against the Lord by worshiping idols before they could enter the Holy Land. Finally, we remember how before God revealed Himself to Israel during the Exodus, Israel as a whole had a time of purification.
In Lent, we fast and pray in solidarity with Jesus and similarly to our Jewish fathers in the faith in order to prepare for the the passion and resurrection of the Lord on Holy Week.
“Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:4-5
- Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, which is the beginning of the 40 days of lent.
- Ash Wednesday and every Friday of lent should be days of abstinence from meat.
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (the last Friday of lent immediately before Easter) are also days of fasting. That means that you can have one regular sized (meatless) meal, but then two small other meals. No snacking. Juice/milk/ etc is fine.
- We are challenged to do something to strengthen our faith during lent. There are a couple “levels” of doing this:
- Level 1: giving up something that isn’t necessarily sinful, but is a bad habit, like TV or candy
- Level 2: giving up something that is an occasion of sin, like certain movies or TV shows, drinking too heavily, etc
- Level 3: giving up something you don’t have to give up out of love for God and to mortify yourself, like maybe giving up listening to music if you really enjoy music
I’d challenge you all to do something that is either “level 2” or “level 3”, because giving up ice cream again is really weak sauce, and how is that actually helping you grow?
See also: Lent