Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Holidays and other Christian topics.
There's more to being a good Christian than memorizing a few passages in the Bible, and Lent means more than giving up chocolate or something you enjoy for 40 days just so you can go hunt eggs on Easter Sunday and get your fill of chocolate bunnies.
Awareness of the Lenten season and its purpose help strengthen your faith and connect you to everyone who honors Christ's sacrifice on the Cross.
Lent Over the Centuries
Christians in the first few centuries AD didn't observe Lent as we do today, and it developed into its modern arrangement over time, as Christianity spread around the world. For example, the pre-Lenten celebration of Mardi Gras traces its roots to a pagan festival held over a millennia ago. In English, the word "Lent" comes from the Old English word for spring.
The Practice of Fasting
Many Catholics today understand the Lenten fast as "just eating fish on Fridays," but Catholic bishops provide explicit direction on fasting. Under the "Code of Canon Law," Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are to abstain from meat on each Friday of Lent and a fast is required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Understanding the Meaning of Lent
Most Christians understand Lent as a time of self-sacrifice to honor Jesus' time on the Cross, and the 40 days are meant to mirror the time Jesus spent in prayer before starting his ministry. The Israelites also spent 40 days wandering the desert, and Moses spent 40 days with God on Mount Sinai.
Beyond giving up something like chocolate or meat, Christians should also do the following during Lent:
Don't think of Lent as simply a time to follow the rules and avoid meat on Fridays. Improve your relationship with the church and God through daily reflection, prayer, and thanksgiving.