Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Lenten Season

Thirteen Thoughts and Facts about the Lenten Season
1…. Carnival, which comes from a Latin phrase meaning "removal of meat," is the three day period preceding the beginning of Lent, the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of the Lenten Season. The Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday is called Shrove Tuesday, or is more popularly known by the French term Mardi Gras, meaning "Fat Tuesday," contrasting to the fasting during Lent. The entire three day period before Ash Wednesday has now come to be known in many areas as Mardi Gras.

2....The season of Lent spans 40 weekdays beginning on Ash Wednesday and climaxing during Holy Week with Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and concluding Saturday before Easter.

3...Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter Sunday, is the first day of the Season of Lent. Its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers’ heads or foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world.

4....Since Sundays celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the six Sundays that occur during Lent are not counted as part of the 40 days of Lent, and are referred to as the Sundays in Lent.

5....Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter.

6....The color used in the sanctuary for most of Lent is purple, red violet, or dark violet (see Colors of the Church Year). These colors symbolize both the pain and suffering leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus as well as the suffering of humanity and the world under sin. But purple is also the color of royalty, and so anticipates through the suffering and death of Jesus the coming resurrection and hope of newness that will be celebrated in the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

7....Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

8....Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance.

9....Most Christian churches focus on Lent as a time of prayer, especially penance, repenting for failures and sin as a way to focus on the need for God’s grace. It is a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.

10....Traditionally, the sanctuary colors of Good Friday and Holy Saturday are black, the only days of the Church Year that black is used.

11....Black is always replaced by white before sunrise of Easter Sunday.

12....The season begins in ashes on Ash Wednesday. We journey through darkness as the season progresses. We seek to recognize and respond afresh to God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We seek to place our needs, our fears, our failures, our hopes, our very lives in God’s hands, again. Through prayer we seek to open ourselves up before God, and to hear anew the call "Come unto me!" And we seek to recognize again who God is, to allow His transforming grace to work in us once more, and to come to worship Him on Easter Sunday with a fresh victory and hope that goes beyond the new clothes, the Spring flowers, the happy music.

13....During the Lenten season Christians stop praying for others as if we were virtuous enough to do so. It is a time for us to take off our righteous robes, to put ashes on our own heads, and to come before God with a new humility and confess, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner."

Credit to The Voice for many of today's facts and thoughts

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