What is Lent?
Christianity is the religion in which Lent, a period of forty days except Sundays is commemorated. It begins from the Ash Wednesday to the day before Easter Sunday. This time is the period of self penitence, reflection and examination. This pious period of forty days is observed in remembrance of the time Jesus spent in the wilderness and deserted places sacrificing all the comforts of his life and enduring the temptations of the Satan.
This auspicious time marks an important period in Christianity and people pledge to give up one or the other bad habit, any luxury or comfort in order to learn the value of repentance. People observe fast during these forty days and prepare for Easter.
What is Ash Wednesday?
It is the day when many Christians mark their foreheads with a cross shape made from the ashes of palm. The clergy burns the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday service and rubs it on the forehead of the followers reminding them ‘For dust you are and to dust you shall turn’. The ceremony of Ash Wednesday is organised to make the people understand that life is short and they should make it meaningful and live it to the fullest.
Easter does not fall on the same date every year hence the period of Lent also varies accordingly. Sundays are not included in this span of time because each Sunday is considered as mini Easter. As Easter marks happiness and joy hence it is not counted in the days observing the reverent spirit of Lent. It is the time of self reflection, understanding and examination where people volunteer whole heartedly and help each other to understand kindness.
Any person following Christianity is allowed to observe Lent. It is the time when a person devotes his or her self to God without boasting any of his or her deeds. People keep fast and repent over their sins genuinely and get a chance to know themselves more closely. Many Roman Catholics and some Protestant churches even remove flowers and cover the crucifixes in violet coloured cloth for a dignified observance of the event. Some adherents even keep away themselves from consumption of meat and these series of events, sacrifice and repentance culminates with the celebration of Resurrection of Jesus(It is believed that after putting to death Jesus rose again) on the Easter Sunday.
Why are you supposed to give up something?
Today there are many reasons due to which people have turned themselves away from God. So, Lent is the time to turn back towards God. Three important things in Lent are prayers, almsgiving and fasting. Lent is a holy period when people learn to accept serenity and keep away themselves from false habits, unnecessary things and luxuries. They adhere to get rid of any of those things which are pleasurable, derailed or has distracted them from God. These things can be food, habits, vices like smoking or drinking etc.
It is not a hardcore rule to give up something while observing this event but many Catholics believe that by observing fast and sacrificing day to day comforts can bring them closer to God. Any sacrifice is a way of repentance of the sins committed in the past and this is what is needed to improve your life. It entirely depends on person to person that what they want to give up in order to repent their sins. It is believed that fasting and abstinence make them realize Christ’s life during those forty days in wilderness.
The rituals and ceremonies are majorly focused on penitence and self reflection. It is the holy time of self understanding and keeping oneself away from the materialistic world. Devotees of Jesus follow his example to be closer to God by enduring their real life temptations. These temptations can be anything which can bring a genuine change in your life even after those 40 days. From serious habits like smoking and drinking to day to day issues like running late to office or too much of phone calls people select one or two things which they want to give up. This is a chance to improve their health and improvise their daily life and living.
What is giving up something
Giving up something in Lent is a form of fasting and these two are closely related. This event begins with the Shrove Tuesday when Christians consume simple foods like milk and eggs. Fasting is observed in many religions all over the world and is supposed to be originated from the Jewish culture. It is a practice to stay connected with the God and is now observed by almost all the religions. Not only fasting, people can also do something extra like say their prayers twice a day, go to church, read more good things etc.
It completely depends on the person what he or she chooses. But it is important to make sure that you sacrifice something that you already have and love because if you go for something you never had it’s not a sacrifice at all. So, whenever you choose, choose wisely. Anything done or sacrificed to remain close to God is always appreciable, think before you select what is your most favourite thing, food or habit and give it up just to improve yourself and to turn back to God.
Value of Sacrifice
This sacrifice will certainly bring a change in you and you will thank god for everything you have when you will finally get it at the end of this event. More important is that Jesus will thank you too for your concern and sacrifice. If you feel you cannot continue this resistance more than a week or two just remember Christ’s sacrifices for forty long days before beginning his ministry and you will definitely get a reason to continue fasting.
God’s love can never be measured. His blessings are always there for his each and every creation hence you cannot boast about your devotion and sacrifices to receive more love and generosity. His love for everyone is equal and it’s your wish, how do you show him your love and dedication. Lent is the time and a chance when you can ignore all the worldly pleasures just to be with God, pray whole heartedly and experience a simple yet high living, examining yourself for betterment.