Lent is the penitential period during which the Christians prepare for Easter. Documented for the first time during the Council of Nicea, in 325 AD, it was already observed before that date.
According to Roman practice, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends six weeks later, with Holy Thursday.
Technically the penitential period lasts 46 days. However, since Sunday is the day of the Lord, it is not included in the count of the days. Therefore, the official duration of the Lenten period is 40 days.
During the Lent, Christians should refrain from certain practices, avoid certain foods, give alms and pray. For example, during this period some Christians decide to stop using social networks and renounce to other hobbies to train self-discipline and feel closer to the suffering of Jesus.
For Catholic Christians abstinence from meat is limited to Lenten Fridays and Ash Wednesday while, for the Orthodox Church, imposes a more rigid fast which also requires abstention from alcohol, eggs and dairy products.
There are 6 days which are pretty important during the period of the Lent:
- Ash Wednesday
It’s the day that marks the beginning of the Lent. Fasting is mandatory.
- Friday of Lent
Total fasting obligation.
- Holy Thursday
It’s the day to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist and the entrance in the Easter triduum.
- Easter Triduum
It begins with the “In the Domini” celebration on Holy Thursday and is extended for three days.
- Friday of the Passion
The day of the Crucifixion of Jesus. Fasting and abstinence are a must.
- Holy Saturday
It is the last day of the Lenten.
- Easter Sunday
It’s the dat in which we celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
The Holy Week
The Holy Week culminates with Easter. It is the most important solemnity of the liturgical year because it represents the bases of Christianity. In fact, in the days before Easter Sunday, the facts of the passion and death on the cross of Christ are remembered.
The Holy Week is also included in that period of time which we call Passion Time: during the Passion Time some Catholic churches used to drape the icons and crucifixes with a drape, making a clear reference to the episode of the Gospel in which Jesus is forced to hide to avoid stoning.
The Holy Week begins with the Palm Sunday, when Jesus arrived triumphant in Jerusalem, welcomed as a King of Israel by the joyful crowd. That same crowd will proclaim its execution a few days later.
The following step towards the crucifixion of Jesus is the Holy Thursday, the day on which the Last Supper took place, which symbolizes the sacrament of the Eucharist. That same day Judah, one of the apostles of Christ, betrayed his Lord for thirty silver pieces.
In English, this day is called “Maundy Thursday”, from Latin mandatum, or “mandate”, in memory of the last commandment made by the Son of God during the dinner, which commanded his disciples to love their neighbor.
On Thursday, Jesus was arrested and sentenced to death by the people of Jerusalem. The next day, Good Friday, he was crucified on Mount Calvary. The death of Christ is interpreted as an extreme sacrifice, capable of redeeming humanity from all its sins.
Three days after the tragic crucifixion, Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. It is the day when we must commemorate the achievement of our faith, since His return symbolizes a renewed faith.