Today it is Ash Wednesday (was yesterday WordPress kept freezing on me) and with Roana Roming, Presbyterianing, around and church not really happening, I had quite forgotten until someone on FaceBook placed a very nice meme as a reminder. Usually we would attend a special service to receive the Ashes, this year this did not happen and so everything is up in the air. We even forgot the Pan Cakes yesterday, in fact Mrs Andrew’s afternoon was spent enjoying the ambience of a Hospital Clinic.
Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.https://www.christianity.com/church/church-life/what-is-ash-wednesday-why-do-christians-celebrate-it.html
So yestrday was the begnning of Lent, the season of Sacrifice, reconciliation and good intentions. But lent to whom and wherefrom?
They say it is exactly 40 days long, excluding Sundays which are catchup days of good eating before getting stuck back into Abstinence and Fasting or eating stuff we don’t like-penance. I do hope no one flagelates themselves anymore since that was a great favourite of the fanatici religiosi in years gone by. Or wear spiked bangles on their upper arms, hair shirts ad infinitem – saved on washing. Lent is a good time to save money, lose weight, need I be anymore insenitive than I am already?
During this period of reflection we ponder the life of Christ as he made his way to Jerusalem to be executed.Jesus spent 40 days in the Wilderness, after his Baptism, which for our sakes just had to be on Mardi Gras, being tempted by the Devil to take the easy way out and eat the Panakes. Another 40!
The number 40 is significant in Judaism and is reflected in the Scriptures, here is a quote from an article which explains what this numeral implies in Judaism.
The Number 40
Forty appears many times in the Bible, usually designating a time of radical transition or transformation. Among the most famous examples are these: It rained for 40 days and 40 nights during the Flood (Genesis 7). Exodus records that Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God. Forty is the number of years the Israelites were required to wander in the wilderness until they were allowed to enter Canaan. Corporeal punishment in the Torah involved 40 lashes. Elijah fasted for 40 days prior to receiving his revelation on Mount Horeb. Multiples of 40 are also common: 40,000 men rallied to Barak in the book of Judges. Read more.https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-numbers/
So the Church continued the trend and in what is the northern Hemispere’s Spring proposed a season of penitence before Easter.
The English word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning “spring season”, as its Dutch language cognate lente (Old Dutch lentin) still does today. … The corresponding word in Latin, quadragesima (“fortieth”), is the origin of the terms used in Latin-derived languages and in some others.Lent – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Lent
So not lent, rather borrowed
It is a spring season for the north but speaking Liturgically it is a word simply meaning 40, and in the Anglican church the first Sunday in Lent is referred to as Quadragesima.
What of now, this season of plague and frustration fear and anger? Has lent any true meaning, I propose that it has, as we continue to live wthin uncertainty I propose that amid the whirlwind of virus we, infact, live out in our own bodies, the Tempation and suffering of Christ both in his wilderness and his Passion.
St Paul said New Living Translation
“I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” Colossians 1:24
St. Francis of Assisi experienced the following
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI—RECEIVES STIGMATA FROM SERAPHS
On September 14, 1224—feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross—while making a retreat in the mountains of La Verna, a seraph visited St. Francis of Assisi during his prayer. The saint was asking how to better please God, so he opened the Bible several times to read God’s Word. Repeatedly he opened to the account of our Lord’s crucifixion. He sensed that it was Christ’s crucifixion that best pleased God. Read more here – https://www.sma-church.org/st-francis-of-assisi-receives-stigmata-from-seraphs/
And so it was that Francis received the 5 wounds of Christ in his own body. Ours are virtual wounds but are nevertheless making up for the sufferings of Christ that continue for his Body the Church.
These are old words and 13th Century Concepts. Yes, we are called to emulate Jesus, to become as he is in his humngus love, we are called to love all as Christ who first loved us. Yet this, in its self has become a virtual exercise as we huddle away for sake of safety. And when churched, cannot offer the customary sign of peace, hugging each other – as we did.
What, then can we borrow from the Spirit of Lent to carry us through, to keep us in loving contact with others?