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katwalk65's avatar

What does the Catholic period of Lent represent, exactly?

Asked by katwalk65 (230points) February 13th, 2010

I am curious as to what the spiritual background is to this subject, when did Lent start, what exactly does it represent, etc. Any relation to 40 days?

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11 Answers

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It’s a lead-up to Holy Week and the events of the Passion. The 40 day period was set to represent the length of the desert fast of Jesus of Nazareth.

janbb's avatar

“The forty days represent the time that, according to the Bible, Jesus spent in the wilderness before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.[1”

Wikpedia article on Lent

sustainable_stability's avatar

Interesting @janbb, perhaps this is why we practice sacrifice during Lent? to mirror Jesus’ time of temptation and to refrain from temptation in His honor?

janbb's avatar

Again from the Wikipedia article:

“The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”

Strauss's avatar

The Feast of the Resurrection (Easter) is considered to be the most important day in the Catholic Calendar. The forty days preceding it (Lent) are indeed for the preparation of the faithful. In stricter times there were required times of fasting and abstinence from meat. Wikipedia has a good article on the history of fasting and abstinence.

Judi's avatar

I’m not Catholic, I am Lutheran, but we honor the season of Lent the same way. It is a reflective time of year.
I have a lot of warm memories of Lenten seasons throughout my life.
I have a friend who plants beets on the first day of Lent. She likes to see them spring to life at Easter time. A chrysilis of sorts.

Trillian's avatar

@janbb I didn’t know that. i thought it had to do with self denial after partying for fat Tuesday, and some sort of interval before Easter. (Eostre to the Wicca/pagan community)

bea2345's avatar

Please do not call it a “Catholic period”. It is Christian, period (to use a pun).

Battousai87's avatar

i agree with most of the people here, but i do have something to add. the 40 represents, according to Catholicism, the time that Jesus spend in the desert where he was tempted by the devil to reveal himself as the son of god. That temptation is the reason for denying the body of certain luxuries that it usually enjoys (also in medieval times i believe that in the giving up of this vice they would give it up to the church along with their tithe, but i don’t remember exactly). Also included in the nature of most christian holidays and ceremonies they have roots in the “pagan” religions. This slight similarity aided in the conversion to Christianity for the missionaries because the people they were trying to convert could more readily justify the conversion seeing as how their holy days and rituals were somehow reflected in some of the aspects of Christianity. So on to the second meaning that i know of for the 40 days is to represent the 40 years that Moses is supposed to have led the Jewish people through the deserts as they escaped from Egypt. dont’ call me atheistic or anything, don’t forget Moses was in the first half of the bible still even in Christianity, and Jesus himself was a Jew because there were no Christians until his followers carried on his teachings after his sacrificial death. I think that’s the fullest extent that i can answer this question without going back through my research. so i’ll leave it at that, hope that helped

Strauss's avatar

An interesting side note-
The development of beer in Bavaria and other European areas was tied to lLent. It was a way to keep an intake of nutrients and still not eat anything

no doubt a good buzz at the same time

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