Thursday, February 7

Season of Lent, its significance and purpose!

Some information concerning Lent, and the season.  Please read my waiver first.
My Waiver
Its important to keep in mind that this is a tradition, and more so than anyone- Catholics observe and are recognized for these practices.  However, as Born Again Believers we are called to live out these tenets and traditions on a daily basis, not just the 40 days before Easter, if this helps us to discipline ourselves, and accustom  to a more rigorous lifestyle then by all means practice it, but keep in mind that ultimately it was the suffering of Christ that atones us, and not our works and deeds.  These traditions are important, and it doesn't hurt to implement, but we live under the covenant of the new, and in the commandments we are called to observe the Sabbath, Christ is the Sabbath, we need to keep Him every day of our lives.   And the first commandment is that there should be no other Gods before Him, I think and very convinced that if we strive to live according to the commandments, our emphasis on Lent, and the process of our cleansing wouldn't be so temporally sacrificial.  So be careful in your observance of Lent, and make sure it is done in memory of what Christ did, suffered and sacrificed, rather than what we are sacrificing. When it all comes down to it, there is nothing we can do to deserve eternity with Him, and there is nothing that we can do to atone for our sins.  He already did it.  So observe Lent in reverence, and gratitude for what already happened and not what we are doing.
Religiosity has turned grace into works based ideas, and therefore eliminating what Christ has already done. I hope this helps, and I hope this season brings all of us closer to God, but that it wont end with just this season, but that it will transpire into our everyday lifestyle all year round.

What is the simple explanation of Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. It falls 40 weekdays before Easter (Sundays aren't counted in the 40 days of Lent). Ash Wednesday takes its name from ashes, a traditional Jewish sign of penitence. In some liturgical traditions, palm fronds or palm crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned, and then the ashes are applied to the worshiper's forehead on Ash Wednesday as a token of their commitment to observe a "holy Lent."

Ancient Christian tradition was to observe Lent with fasting (a discipline of going without food at certain times), study, self-examination, confession and prayer. During this time, candidates for Holy Baptism were prepared for baptism on Easter Eve. Many churches continue those traditions.

The traditional color for altar hangings and clergy vestments during Lent is purple. Traditionally, altars are decorated in a plainer style, perhaps with the omission of flowers. Because Lent was a time for rigorous fasting, Christians often observed the last day before Lent as a time to celebrate and to use up leavening. Hence, Mardi Gras ("Fat Tuesday"), also known as "Shrove Tuesday."

What do the ashes of Ash Wednesday signify?
References to a "day of ashes" liturgy as the start of Lent can be found as early as the 8th Century. Ashes are an ancient part of repentance rituals, as mentioned several times in the Old Testament and practiced in other religions, as well. They were a sign of humbling oneself before God.
The ashes used in Christian liturgies traditionally are made by burning palms saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday liturgy. The officiant places his or her thumb in the finely ground ashes, and then makes the sign of the cross on the worshiper's forehead. The cross, of course, refers to Jesus. The words used in imposing ashes are, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return," or some variant. Those words refer to the creation story, when God made humanity out of earth.
This ceremony has several layers of meaning. But the heart of it is accepting one's humanity, acknowledging God as creator, confessing one's sins, asking God for forgiveness, and pledging to go forward in "newness of life."

What is Lent and when does it begin?
The Christian season of Lent (from an Old English word meaning "spring") is the 40-day period before Easter. Lent traditionally begins on Ash Wednesday and extends forty days, not including Sundays, when a certain easing of the fast was allowed. Six weeks of six days plus the four days starting with Ash Wednesday make up the forty days.
Why does Lent last 40 days?
Forty is a standard Biblical number meaning a long time, like the Hebrews' 40 years in the wilderness after the exodus, and Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness after his baptism. Those examples suggest a time of preparation. The wilderness wandering prepared the Hebrews to enter the promised land of Canaan. Jesus' time in the wilderness prepared him for a ministry as Messiah. Lent, then, was one of the Church's two seasons of preparation for baptism. The other was the season of Advent, which originally was 40 days leading up to Epiphany.
Lent traditionally ends with the sacrament of baptism on Easter Eve or on Easter Morning. The original aim was to use the 40 days for intensive preparation of candidates for baptism.

Why do people fast or refrain from eating meat
during Lent?
Lent has become a time for penitence and self-examination, study, and spiritual discipline. Perhaps the discipline most commonly associated with Lent is fasting, which can take many forms, such as giving up entire meals, or certain foods (like meat), or radically changing a diet, in order to be made mindful of one's humanity and of God's providence. One tradition was to stop using leavening during Lent. Hence on the day before Ash Wednesday, Christians observed "Fat Tuesday," or Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, when the household would enjoy its last use of leavening until Easter Day. One form of fasting in Lent (or at other times) is to refrain from eating meat. Hence the serving of fish as a non-meat meal. The point is self-denial. Those who eat fish all the time and rarely eat meat might want to undertake a different fast.
I found this site to be good for suggested reading throughout the period of Lent, and then they have for holy week and so forth.  This is this years schedule!  Its separated into Psalm reading, Old Testament, Epistle (Letter) and a Gospel.  I looked into a few and its actually very good .
Click on the link for the site >>> Lent Reading

I hope this helps!

Living each day as if it were my last! Praise Jesus!

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