And so to Lent

Ash Wednesday and Easter on the way.

So if Love is “transaction free” – why such a transactional word: lent?

“In the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted. This word initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen.”

And then this:
“There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour).

However, in modern times, observers give up an action of theirs considered to be a vice, add something that is considered to be able to bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.

In addition, some believers add a regular spiritual discipline, such as reading a Lenten daily devotional. Another practice commonly added is the singing of Stabat Mater hymn in designated groups. Among Filipino Catholics, the recitation of Jesus Christ’ passion called Pasiong Mahal is also observed.

In many liturgical Christian denominations, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday form the Easter Triduum. Lent is a season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of Easter. It is known in Eastern Orthodox circles as the season of “Bright Sadness.” It is a season of sorrowful reflection which is punctuated by breaks in the fast on Sundays.”

And then this:
“In the Roman Catholic Mass, Lutheran Divine Service, and Anglican Eucharist, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is not sung during the Lenten season, disappearing on Ash Wednesday and not returning until Maundy Thursday, the joyful commemoration of Christ’s institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Likewise, the Alleluia is not sung during Lent. It is replaced before the Gospel reading by a seasonal acclamation. In the pre-1970 form of the Roman Rite omission of the Alleluia begins with Septuagesima. In the Byzantine Rite, the Gloria (Great Doxology) continues to be used in its normal place in the Matins service, and the Alleluia appears all the more frequently, replacing “God is the Lord” at Matins.”

And then this as a last sentence of a very full page:
“Today, some atheists who find value in the Christian tradition, also observe Lent.”

Let’s not just observe. Let’s all get closer to God. Or else what is this all really about?


12 thoughts on “And so to Lent

  1. I actually love lent. Don’t you look forward to spending more time with your best friend? Not that I need a reason, or excuse, but there are so many opportunities presented at my church for prayer, reflection, retreats…………….I guess the rest of the year they think it’s not necessary…………….????


  2. I want to thank you Paul for putting this on your blog; I’ve never understood Lent, and I guess I still don’t really “get it.”

    Intending no disrespect to anyone, please understand that, and admittedly entirely out of ignorance, a season for drawing closer to God seems like a bad idea, for is drawing closer to God a seasonal thing? I think not! It’s supposed to be a way of life isn’t it?

    Well anyway, I have a better idea of what it’s all about (Lent) than I did a few minutes ago; thanks again Paul!


    • Don, have to say a large chunk of me sits with you. Having a small debate with myself over the “church calendar” and that most responses coming back say “that’s how its always been.” Which I find never really allows me to “get it” first time around. What caught my eye today was the “lent/borrowing/owed = transaction love” in “lent”. And then wondered why it was called that.

      Katie and I were sharing something similar to what you mention: turning up, doing “form” and then going home happens all year around. Would be great if that was the other way around. As you state: all year around is the way.

      Bottom line for me, any “invitation” that might attract the curious and/or deepen my own understanding … not gonna fight that too hard. At least not today. 🙂


      • I appreciate that, and I sure hope nobody gets the impression that I’m knocking Lent, because I’m not, it’s just that I don’t come from a background that observes it and when I’ve asked about it, the only answer I ever seem to find is that it’s tradition, and since I spend a lot of time working with struggling churches to bring them back to life, so to speak, “it’s just tradition” has become a big red flag for me.

        Your post has more info about the origins of Lent than I’ve read before (which is my bad!) so at least I have a better idea about it than I did before…


      • Ha – love that! And I have just gone back and re-read the piece above – and with a fresh eye it does read like a “slackers charter”

        “Tradition” always seems to me shorthand for, well not sure why, but it quite suits us, we know were we are with things, don’t have to think too hard and everyone knows what is expected and when to turn up – and for how long.

        Have you noticed how family traditions can be embedded with just one (let’s make it a tradition) or two (it’s a tradition) repetitions?


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