A few more thoughts on what in the world we are doing during these 40 days…
From the Anglo-Saxon lencten: spring, the time of lengthening days. Lent is the forty-day penitential season beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Eve.
Until quite recent years Lent was observed by enough people and with enough seriousness that the pace of our common life was manifestly slowed down during these 40 days. Now the small recognition it receives is scarcely more than a token.
Lent began to disappear from the American scene when self-denial began to disappear. Devotional exercises are considered pointless calisthenics because their relevance to social issues is not immediately discernible. The idea that a single, serious, self-disciplined Christian is a leaven in society is passe…
It was Gregory the Great, late in the 6th century, who established the 40 day period. He had to leave out Sundays, of course, because every Sunday is a feast day in commemoration of Easter. This is why Lent begins on a Wednesday: to make up the 40 days without counting the Sundays.
It has been pointed out that 40 days make up roughly one-tenth of the year, which means that Lent can be regarded as a tithe of one’s time!
It is a season of saying no, of asking for God’s grace and mercy over the wrongs we have chosen to do, and for being intentionally generous towards those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. May God grant you a holy and intentional Lent.