Lenten also known as Lent is the season of fasting and the beginning of a 40 day fasting diet to prepare for church baptism. According to Christianitytoday.com, this began in 325 A.D.; the origins of Lent is unclear on whether it was originally for the new Christians baptism preparations only that became part of the entire church.
Catholics and Episcopalian and Anglican of the protestant dissent still observe Lent today and the observation of Lent varies by location and denomination. Eastern Lent observers fast on weekdays and those in the western cultures follow a week shorter but include Saturday in their Lent fasting; however both keep their observances strict to only one meal a day in the evening. No fish, meat or any animal products are allowed during this time.
Lent began on the fortieth Sunday around the 600s, but after Gregory the Great, it was moved to a Wednesday, which became Ash Wednesday, this made it exactly 40 days in Lent, except Sundays, which were days of feasting.
The Bible says, “You are dust, and to dust you will return” (Gen 3:19) and began the ash ceremony or Ash Wednesday with Gregory, the father of the medieval papacy. Gregory placed an ash mark on the foreheads of parishners to remind them of repentance and to come to church for forgiveness.
Over time, Lenten season has became more relaxed with Christians eating after 3 p.m, and eventually it changed to eating after noon. Moreover, these practices have changed to allow fish and other foods and in 1966, the Roman Catholic Church changed the fasting days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday only; however, the Eastern Orthodox Church is still strict in its fasting observance. Although many denominations lack the teaching on Lent, in recent years more churches are returning to these observances and modern evangelical leaders are introducing fasting as a way to prepare for revival.
Pope Francis Leads Ash Wednesday Service in Rome
Pope Francis gave a homily encouraging tears and humility among Roman Catholic clergy during an Ash Wednesday mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome.
Ash Wednesday Observance
Ash Wednesday Observance: A catholic priest marks the head of a parishioner with ashes a symbol of the season of Lent where Christians fast during the Easter holiday.
Ash Wednesday Communion
A parishioner takes communion on Ash Wednesday as part of the season of Lent observances as part of season of Lent where Christians fast during the Easter holiday..
Ash Wednesday Prayer
A parishioner prays after receiving the mark of ash on her forehead for Ash Wednesday in observance of the Lenten as part of the season of Lent where Christians fast during the Easter holiday..