22 February 2013

About Lent

What is Lent?

Lent is a season of preparation leading up to Easter. It is the forty days plus the six Sundays before Easter. For centuries, it has been observed as a special time of self-examination and penitence. Lent is a time for concentration on fundamental values and priorities, and is not a time for self-punishment.

Changes in the church building and services

Throughout Lent, the worship services of the church take on a simpler tone, appropriate to this season. Banners are removed from the church. Crosses showing the risen Christ are veiled. The word ‘Alleluia’ is not used in the words of the liturgy or hymns. These practices help the worshipping community to mark this season of renewal as a special time in the church year.

‘Giving something up for Lent’

The custom is to mark the season of Lent by giving up some things and taking on others. Both can serve to mark the season as a holy time of preparation.

Some examples of things people give up for Lent include sweets, meat for all or some meals, and alcohol. In most cases, giving up something for Lent can be made more meaningful by using the money or time for another purpose. For example, meal times on fast days could be spent in prayer. Another example is that if you give up meat during Lent, the extra money that would go to meat dishes can be given to a group, such as World Vision, which works to end hunger worldwide.

Some things added during Lent are daily Bible reading, fasting on Fridays, times of prayer or taking a course of study related in some way to spirituality.

From “Keeping a Holy Lent” by Episcopal Church, Kingsland, Georgia, USA

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