Lent in the Catholic faith is a period of intense preparation for Easter. It also reminds the followers of Christ the agony of Christ Jesus on the cross of Cavalry.
The lenten period usually starts on ash Wednesday in Western churches. It lasts for six and a half weeks before Easter, which is forty days excluding the Sundays. The period is associated with fasting and abstinence, empirical to Jesus Christ__ how he fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness before he commenced his ministry publicly.
The Lenten period is also the time to prepare candidates for baptism in the Catholic church as well as a period of penance for the grievous sinners who were prevented from communion and were ready for repentance. These sets of people receive public penance as a sign of their afflictions. They wear sack clothes and are poured ashes in the presence of the community. This ordinance has the potential of keeping believers away from sin. However, this form of public penance started to fade in the 9th century until it was completely dead in the western churches. It became a tradition for all the faithful to reflect on the need for penitence, hence the ashes were made compulsory to place on the foreheads of every believer on the first day of the lent, which now becomes the ash Wednesday. The ash also maintains our state of mind towards the reason for the season. Therefore, it is a fact to note that the period of the preparation and fasting has been observed before the Easter celebration since the apostolic time before it was formalized in 325CE.
Is The Lent in The Bible?
Many people wonder and often ask whether the practice of lent is in conformity with what the Bible teaches. But even though the Bible didn’t mention lent, It did site examples on the journey of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, hence the forty days of fasting period.
The Lenten season is cited in the Bible story of Jesus in the wilderness, where He fasted and prayed for 40 days. He was tempted by Satan, but with perfect faith and obedience to God the Father, Satan was rebuked as recorded in the gospel of Mathew 4:1-11__ “then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him“.
Lent Bible Verses on Ashes and Fasting
These scriptures are concentrated on the fasting and traditions that concerns Lent. The purpose of fasting is to abstain from distractions or temporary wants to focus on intense connection with God. The purpose of fasting is to get nearer to God through prayers. The ashes at the beginning of Lent help us to recollect our return to the earth and that there must be an atonement for our sins.
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you”.
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”
Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning
When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach.
When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.
And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
1 Corinthians 7:5
Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Christians During The Lenten Period
In the early centuries, fasting rules were not flexible just as they are in the Eastern churches today. One meal a day was allowed in the evening, while meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. The Eastern churches also condemned the use of wine, oil, and dairy products.
In the West, these Lenten observations or rules have gradually been relaxed. The strict law of fasting among Roman Catholics was relaxed during World War II, and only Ash Wednesday. Good Fridays are now kept as Lenten fast days. However, the emphasis on penitential practice and arms giving remains. Many Catholics also do away with eating of meats on Fridays. Most Catholics choose to abstain from specific pleasures, such as sexual intercourse, alcohol, social media, and some other things that give pleasure during Lent. This helps to promote self-control and increases their desire to seek God’s presence. Lots of believers use their cravings or appetites for these items as a reminder to pray and to refocus on sacred substances.
It is advised that when an individual abstains from anything, especially the ones that involve money spending, that such amount that would have been spent on those things should be given for charity or in promotion of God’s work.