Students will be able to:
1) identify the beginning and the end of Lent
2) explain the source of Lent in the life of Christ
3) identify the Church laws relating to Lent
Gr. 9 Religion Old Testament Jot down notes on loose leaf to submit with the Bible study activity that will accompany these notes.
Brainstorm what you know about Lent. . .
Lent = 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday
A time of penance - showing sorrow for sins
A time of conversion - changing our lives to the better, reduce sin, become more holy;
Includes increased fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving as well as prayer.
Fast = to give up eating/consuming something
Church law says we must fast on 2 days:
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
From our 18th birth to our 60th birthday.
Fasting consists of eating only 1 full meal and 2 smaller meals that together do not add up to one full meal and nothing eaten between meals, including liquid types of meals (milk shake)
Abstinence = to not eat meat on certain days
Church Laws says we must abstain from the flesh of mammals and fowl, and their by-products (gravy, soups, etc.)
on Ash Wednesday, and all Fridays of Lent
From our 14th birthday to our 60th birthday
<Image of meat and poultry! Pizza, burgers, steaks, fried chicken, etc.
All other Fridays are also days of abstinence unless we purposefully replace not eating meat with some other act of penance or service (almsgiving)
Why do we fast? As a sign of sorrow for sin;
as a sign of our seriousness about prayer
Jesus fasted for 40 days (complete fast of NO food at all)
Jesus recommended fasting when a prayer was not being answered.
Old Testament required fasting at times, recommended at other times:
a. Only one fast was specifically commanded in the 0. T. (on the
Day of Atonement) Leviticus 16:29-34 for forgiveness of sin
b. But people often fasted when they wanted God to hear their prayers
c. The purpose of such fasting:
1) To humble themselves by "afflicting their souls"
2) Believing that such humiliation would be pleasing in God's sight (and it often was)
d. However, fasting was fruitless when:
1) It was done to show off
2) It was done without true repentance (no change of heart happens)
e. Usually fasting was from food from sun up to sun down, sometimes for more than one day, but nor from water,
only from food.
Alms is a donation or gift given to someone who can not repay you. It is not a loan. It is not given to someone who can 'return the favor' in the future. It is given to help those survive who might not survive without your generosity.
Scriptural and Spiritual meanings of Lent
Source: Dr. Scott Hahn - St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
The Season of Lent
-by Dennis Bratcher
Reflections on Lent
Originating in the fourth century of the church, 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. Originally, Lent was the time of preparation for those who were to be baptized, a time of concentrated study and prayer before their baptism at the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord early on Easter Sunday. But since these new members were to be received into a living community of Faith, the entire community was called to preparation. Also, this was the time when those who had been separated from the Church would prepare to rejoin the community.
Today, Lent is marked by a time of prayer and preparation to celebrate Easter. 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. The number 40 is connected with many biblical events, but especially with the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for His ministry by facing the temptations that could lead him to abandon his mission and calling. Christians today use this period of time for introspection, self examination, and repentance. This season of the year is equal only to the Season of Advent in importance in the Christian year, and is part of the second major grouping of Christian festivals and sacred time that includes Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost.
Lent has traditionally been marked by penitential prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some churches today still observe a rigid schedule of fasting on certain days during Lent, especially the giving up of meat, alcohol, sweets, and other types of food. Other traditions do not place as great an emphasis on fasting, but focus on charitable deeds, especially helping those in physical need with food and clothing, or simply the giving of money to charities. Most Christian churches that observe Lent at all focus on it 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 really a preparation to celebrate God’s marvelous redemption at Easter, and the resurrected life that we live, and hope for, as Christians.
Mardi Gras or Carnival
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 (some traditions count Carnival as the entire period of time between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday). The three days before Ash Wednesday are also known as Shrovetide ("shrove" is an Old English word meaning "to repent"). 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 has now come to be known in many areas as Mardi Gras.
Carnival or Mardi Gras is usually a period of celebration, originally a festival before the fasting during the season of Lent. Now it is celebrated in many places with parades, costumes, dancing, and music. Many Christians’ discomfort with Lent originates with a distaste for Mardi Gras. In some cultures, especially the Portuguese culture of Brazil, the French culture of Louisiana, and some of the Caribbean cultures such as Trinidad, it has tended to take on the excesses of wild and drunken revelry. There has been some attempt in recent years to change this aspect of the season, such as using Brazilian Carnival parades to focus on national and cultural history. Many churches now observe Mardi Gras with a church pancake breakfast or other church meal, eating together as a community before the symbolic fasting of Lent begins.
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. It not only prefigures the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshipper in a position to realize the consequences of sin. (See Reflections on Ash Wednesday). Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christian.
In the early church, ashes were not offered to everyone but were only used to mark the forehead of worshippers who had made public confession of sin and sought to be restored to the fellowship of the community at the Easter celebration. However, over the years others began to show their humility and identification with the penitents by asking that they, too, be marked as sinners. Finally, the imposition of ashes was extended to the whole congregation in services similar to those that are now observed in many Christian churches on Ash Wednesday. Ashes became symbolic of that attitude of penitence reflected in the Lord’s prayer: “forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” (Luke 11:4, NRSV).
Colors and Symbols of Lent
The color used in the sanctuary for most of Lent is purple, red violet, or dark violet. 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.
Some churches use grey for Ash Wednesday or for the entire season of Lent, or for special days of fasting and prayer. Gray is the color of ashes, and therefore a biblical symbol of mourning and repentance. The decorations for the sanctuary during Lent should reflect this mood of penitence and reflection. Some churches avoid the use of any flowers in the sanctuary during Lent, using various dried arrangements. This can be especially effective if a flowering cross is used for Easter. Other churches use arrangements of rocks or symbols associated with the Gospel readings for the six Sundays in Lent.
Some church traditions change the sanctuary colors to red for Maundy Thursday, a symbol of the disciples and through them the community of the church. Since Eucharist or communion is often observed on Maundy Thursday in the context of Passover, the emphasis is on the gathered community in the presence of Jesus the Christ.
Traditionally, the sanctuary colors of Good Friday and Holy Saturday are black, the only days of the Church Year that black is used. It symbolizes the darkness brought into the world by sin. It also symbolizes death, not only the death of Jesus but the death of the whole world under the burden of sin. In this sense, it also represents the hopelessness and the endings that come as human beings try to make their own way in the world without God (see The Days of Holy Week). Black is always replaced by white before sunrise of Easter Sunday. Newer traditions continue the use of the dark purple, simply removing all extraneous decorations and even the dried flower arrangements.
The Journey of Lent
There are many ways for a congregation to mark the journey of Lent. One of the most effective ways that can be expanded in many variations is to use a rough wooden cross as a focal point for the season. The type of cross and how it is constructed will depend on exactly how it will be used. The cross is usually erected in the Sanctuary on Ash Wednesday as a visible symbol of the beginning of Lent. It is usually draped in black on Good Friday. The same cross can also become a part of the congregation's Easter celebration as it is then draped in white or gold, or covered with flowers.
One effective way to make use of the cross is to use it as a Prayer Cross during Lent. A hammer, square nails, and small pieces of paper are made available near the cross. At a designated time of prayer in Lent, people are invited to write their prayer requests on the paper, and then nail them to the cross. The quiet time of prayer with only the sounds of the hammer striking the nails can be a moving time for reflection on the meaning of Lent, and a powerful call to prayer. The prayer requests can be removed and burned as part of a Tenebrae or Stations of the Cross service during Holy Week to symbolize releasing the needs to God.
Some churches have a special time of prayer or meditation one night of each week during Lent. Often Catholic and high church traditions pray the Stations of the Cross Some Protestant churches have a special series of Bible studies followed by a time of meditation and prayer. Often, in both Catholic and Protestant traditions, the prayer time is followed by a simple meal of soup and bread to symbolize the penitence of the Season.
Reflections on Lent
We enjoy celebrating Palm Sunday. The children get to make paper palm branches and for many this is one of the few times they get to take an active role in "big church." We wave the palm branches and celebrate. And we all love Easter Sunday! It is a happy time, with flowers, new clothes, and the expectation of Spring in the air.
But it is too easy and promotes too cheap a grace to focus only on the high points of Palm Sunday and Easter without walking with Jesus through the darkness of Good Friday, a journey that begins on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a way to place ourselves before God humbled, bringing in our hands no price whereby we can ourselves purchase our salvation. It is a way to confess our total inadequacy before God, to strip ourselves bare of all pretense to righteousness, to come before God in dust and ashes. It is a way to empty ourselves of our false pride, of our rationalizations that prevent us from seeing ourselves as needy creatures, of our "perfectionist" tendencies that blind us to the beam in our own eyes.
Through prayer that gives up self, we seek to open ourselves up before God, and to hear anew the call "Come unto me!" 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. And we seek by abandoning ourselves in Jesus’ death 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.
But it begins in ashes. And it journeys though darkness. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that I am convinced we must make one way or the other for genuine spiritual renewal to come. I have heard the passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted a lot: ". . .if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." This usually is quoted in the context of wanting revival or renewal in the church, and the prayer is interpreted as intercessory prayer for others. But a careful reading of the passage will reveal that the prayer that is called for here is not intercessory prayer for others; it is penitential prayer for the faith community, for us. It is not to call for others to repent; it is a call for us, God’s people, to repent. It is our land that needs healed, it is our wicked ways from which we need to turn, we are the ones who need to seek God’s face.
Perhaps during the Lenten season we should stop praying for others as if we were virtuous enough to do so. Perhaps we should take off our righteous robes just long enough during this 40 days to put ashes on our own heads, to come before God with a new humility that is willing to confess, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." Maybe we should be willing to prostrate ourselves before God and plead, "Lord, in my hand no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling." That might put us in a position to hear God in ways that we have not heard Him in a long time. And it may be the beginning of a healing for which we have so longed.
O Lord, begin with me. Here. Now.
-Dennis Bratcher, 2005
-Copyright © 2005, CRI / Voice, Institute Last modified: November 02, 2005
Reflections on Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully Christians. It was not always the way we know it today. Ashes marked on the forehead of worshippers were not given to everyone, but only to the public penitents who were brought before the church. Much like Hester Prynne bearing her scarlet letter, these open and notorious sinners were marked publicly with the sign of their disgrace.
As time went on, others began to show their humility and their affection for the penitents by asking that they, too, be marked as sinners. Finally, the number of penitents grew so large that the imposition of ashes was extended to the whole congregation in services similar to those that are observed in many Christian churches on Ash Wednesday.
We who will bear the ashes upon our foreheads stand with those whose sins may be more public, but not, according to the Scriptures, more grievous to the heart of God. And so we make our confessions. . . . If you only knew the secrets of my heart, if you only knew the sins that I am capable of contemplating, if you only knew some of the schemes I have considered – and of course God does know – then you would know that I, too, am a sinner.
Ashes are signs that we are all in this sin business together, and that the difference between the good in us and the bad in us is sometimes frightfully thin. We so often fall short of the Faith we claim. We have treated people as things and we have treated things as if they were valuable people. And so we look into our hearts and make the ancient prayer of one notorious sinner our own: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm 51:10; see Psalm 51 and the Language of Transformation).
Lent is a season that reminds us to repent and get our lives centered, our priorities straight, and our hearts clean. This holy season offers us a new chance to say, "yes" to the Lover of our Souls who created us, who made us in his own image. Lent is the time for a restoration project that will reveal the beauty of God’s design for us, showing once again the scale, proportion, and priorities intended by our Maker.
Further, Lent is a season of hope and with ashes on our foreheads and hope in our hearts, we go forth to love and serve. For by God’s grace in Christ, we do not have to stay the way we are.
-Stuart Malloy, Copyright © 2005, Christian Resource Institute
Copyright © 2005, CRI / Voice, Institute
Last modified: November 02, 2005
Source: -Dennis Bratcher, 2005 -Copyright © 2005, CRI / Voice, Institute
Triduum - The Three “Great Days”: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter (Holy Saturday/Sunday)
The three greatest days in history happened not quite 2000 years ago, when Jesus entered into the purpose of his human existence: to suffer, to die and to rise – all for the sake of saving humanity from eternal hell. The three great days are: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (Easter). Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday up until the start of Holy Thursday mass, not counting Sundays, so these three days are not part of Lent.
Holy Thursday – The Mystery of Service
On Holy Thursday we commemorate Jesus’ gift of Himself to us. The Last Supper happened on the evening of Holy Thursday. This last meal for Jesus was probably a Passover Meal, where Jews eat unleavened bread, drink several cups of wine and eat a lamb. These foods call to mind the great event in Jewish history when God sent the Angel of Death upon Egypt to force the Pharaoh to release the Jewish slaves. All doors marked with lamb’s blood were skipped (passed over) by the Angel of Death. It was with this awesome event in mind that Jesus gave the bread and wine to his apostles and said, “This is my body. . .this is my blood of the new covenant.” Jesus gave us Himself, His body and blood as the Lamb of God, as an act of humble service, so that the Angel of Death would have no permanent power over us.
Before this same meal, Jesus illustrated what it means to be a great leader – to serve. He did this by doing the lowliest servant’s job: washing feet. He said, “I have given you a model. As I have done, so you must do. If I, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” (See John 13) So Holy Thursday’s theme of service is seen in a number of ways: in Jesus’ giving of Himself in the Eucharistic Meal, in the example of the feet washing and finally, in his commissioning of the 12 Apostles to do as He had just done, “Do this in memory of me.” (Luke 22:19) In these words, we see the beginning of the Priesthood, the great Sacrament of Service to the church. So, the mystery of service is: to become great we must become a lowly servant, even as the Lord of the Universe comes to us in the lowly form of bread.
Good Friday – The Mystery of Suffering
From Holy Thursday night throughout all of Friday, Jesus suffered. If you want to understand the extent of this suffering, try to watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ without flinching. It captures the raw brutality of the suffering inflicted upon Jesus. At the moment Jesus finally died, the Centurion came to the faith to which we are all called, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:29) Through the suffering Jesus endured, He took upon Himself the punishment WE deserved because of our sins. Read Isaiah 53 to understand this. “He was pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins. He took upon Himself the guilt of us all. . . He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” Many have wondered about the suffering Jesus endured. As God and as human, what was the experience like for Jesus. The physical suffering of a scourging and crucifixion is extremely brutal. Jesus chose to endure the full limit of his human body’s ability to feel pain. But there were also other sufferings. The suffering was more excruciating because of his being emotionally and spiritually abandoned, both by the Apostles and momentarily, by His Father. This agony is heard in his cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:2) The suffering was also one of a person who has been offended. How do we feel when we hear a friend has betrayed us? When we’ve been insulted, neglected, used, abused, etc.? All of these are intense emotions that cause suffering and despair. Multiply that feeling by the billions of souls who reject God’s love, and then we have a glimpse at the suffering of Jesus. As God, He knew all of this ahead of time (which is why he sweat blood in the garden) and yet He still freely chose to go through it for us. From Jesus’ example, we come to see that the mystery of suffering is that it leads to life for ourselves and for others.
Holy Saturday – The Mystery of Life
From Good Friday through Holy Saturday, we experience the silence of the tomb. It is, in some sense, the Paschal Sabbath. Jesus’ Body, which worked so hard to win our salvation, now is at rest. For the Jewish people this was the actual Sabbath – from sunset Friday through sunset Saturday. From Saturday evening through Sunday, we celebrate the MOST important day of human history. Satan is defeated, sin is conquered, our salvation is won! As Paul says, what good is Jesus’ suffering and death if he did not also rise from the dead? This day is the great surprise of God. The great tricking of Satan, who thought he had won when Jesus was crucified. This day begins with the Easter Vigil service on the holiest night of all nights (NOT Christmas!). In this day, when Jesus rises from the dead, He conquers sin, death, suffering, the grave, the Evil One, and the power of Hell. All the effects of sin are reversed in this one act of Jesus. We journey from darkness to light and realize we having nothing to fear and that we really do have something to celebrate! “Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy victory? O grave where is thy sting?” (See Hosea 13:14 or 1 Cor 15:55) We, like Jesus will rise again in our bodies! We will have perfect resurrected bodies and live forever in the glory of Heaven, having claimed the Blood of the Lamb as the source of our victory. So the Mystery of Life is that it comes most fully when we embrace death.
The great drama of the Triduum is to be fully experienced in the liturgy of the Church. The scripture readings, the washing of feet, the honoring of the Body of Christ, the Passion play, the veneration of the Cross, the lighting of the new fire, the music and ritual all help us enter into the historical events of our salvation. Do not miss the deepest way to celebrate our salvation – participate in the three greatest days in all of human history!