Let’s Talk About Lent

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What is Lent? KristenShane.com
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Let’s talk about Lent.

What is it? Why do Christians celebrate it? What’s Ash Wednesday? Why do people ‘give something up’? There’s a lot of questions to be asked, and even being raised a Catholic Christian, I still don’t know all the answers when people ask me these questions this time of year. So let’s talk about it!

I’d like to start by saying I’m no expert. But I am curious and I like my questions answered, so I hope I can clear up some of your questions about Lent, too, that you’re also wondering or maybe too scared to ask. Even if I can’t directly answer all your questions (because faith isn’t simple!), I hope I can at least direct you to some resources that can (I’ve linked all the resources I used in the bold pink text throughout this post!). Also, I am Catholic, so I can’t speak for other Christian denominations, since different people and different churches celebrate Lent different, so just keep that in mind!

 

What is Lent?

READ MORE: Lent FAQs from Catholic Online 

Lent is a period of 40 weekdays (Sundays aren’t included in the count), starting on Ash Wednesday, in preparation for Easter Sunday. ‘40’ is biblically significant in multiple ways, and the 40 days of Lent resemble Jesus’s 40 days spent in the desert when he resisted the temptations of the devil.

Lent is a period of preparation to prepare for Jesus’s resurrection and simultaneous defeat over sin and death.

 

What’s Ash Wednesday?

READ MORE: What is Ash Wednesday? from Bibleinfo.com

Ash Wednesday is celebrated in the Catholic church to begin and prepare for the Lenten season. The ashes come from burnt palm branches (read more: about the significance of palms in the Bible and Christian faith). The ashes are placed on our foreheads in the sign of a cross and we’re told “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

The ashes are a sign of humility and are a reminder of our humanity and sin.

 

Why do people ‘give something up’?

READ MORE: ‘Giving something up’ from Catholic Online

This is where lots of the confusion happens about Lent and its significance, for Catholics, Christians, and non-Christians alike. When we’re little, Lent seems to just be a time where we ‘give up’ candy for 40 days, but then get Easter baskets full of treats… but why?

As I got older, people would give up other things that seemed arbitrary. How does not eating at your favorite fast food restaurant lead you closer to Christ? At face value, it doesn’t, which is where I take issue with the whole idea of ‘giving something up’ without a purpose or deeper meaning to grow in faith.

‘Giving something up’ isn’t necessarily going to improve your faith life, unless you chose something that really can bring you closer to Christ. Maybe you give up your daily Starbucks, but instead donate that money to your church. Maybe you give up Netflix, and instead spend that time in nightly prayer, prayer journaling, or diving into scripture.

Giving something up can be a powerful tool to faith, if you let it.

I think that adding something for Lent can be just as powerful, though. You could choose to read a book of the Bible each week or finally make the habit of daily prayer you keep saying you’ll start… There’s so many life-changing, faith-bringing things you can do to let your life look more like Christ’s, way beyond giving up chocolate and French fries.

 

What are you doing for Lent, Kristen?

Great question. This year I’m focusing on the ‘fasting’ and ‘prayer’ parts of the prayer-fasting-almsgiving trio also closing associated with Lent. I’ll be giving up meat entirely for Lent (read more: FAQs from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops) and taking the Friday fasts more seriously than I have before. I’ll be continuing my practice of daily prayer and continuing to discern the things in my life that are leading me closer to Christ and happiness, and the things that do not.

 

So, what are you doing for Lent, friend? If you already know what you’re doing, be it giving up or adding, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below. If you haven’t figured it out yet, you’ve still got time to figure it out! Regardless of where you stand in faith, or how seriously you’ve taken Lent before, I encourage you to open yourself to prayer and see what God is calling you to do in your own life for this season!

Thanks for reading, happy Sunday and happy almost-Lent!

PaintedGracebyKS crosses with flowers

 

8 Comments

  1. Catherine
    February 12, 2018

    I love what you said about giving something up! It’s so much more than I think some people think it is….

    Reply
    1. kristenshaneblog
      February 13, 2018

      Yes!!! It’s become one of my pet peeves almost when people just ask “what are you giving up??” as if you’re wrong if you don’t…

      Reply
  2. Sabrina Greene
    February 12, 2018

    I have always heard of Lent and I have a friend who is Catholic but being Baptist I really was not sure what it was or why. I can certainly see the beauty of it and thank you for sharing this post! Many blessings to you!

    Reply
    1. kristenshaneblog
      February 13, 2018

      I find it so interesting to hear that! I know some people who are Baptist as well and didn’t know of Lent, and then some non-Catholic Christians who do practice certain elements. I’m glad this post could be of help to you! Blessings 🙂

      Reply
  3. Monica
    February 12, 2018

    My goodness, I just love every single blog you post! The past few years, I have chosen to add something to my life during Lent instead of giving something up, and for me personally, it has impacted me in so many incredible ways. I’m still fully deciding, but I think this year I’m going to wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal and spend time doing a spiritual reading. I also plan to do at least 8 intentional acts of service/love throughout the 40 days. Lent is such a much-needed time to reflect on faith and how we can grow in our relationship with God, and your zeal in making this Lent intentional and meaningful is so inspiring. God bless!!

    Reply
    1. kristenshaneblog
      February 13, 2018

      Monica your sweet comments always warm my heart!! This kind of love & reaction is EXACTLY why I write and do what I do, so THANK YOU for reminding me of that purpose! I love that idea for the morning readings, that’s so beautiful! And I know the Lord will truly speak to you through that. I love your take on Lent, and I can’t wait to hear how it all goes for you! Many blessings always 🙂

      Reply
  4. Neva
    February 13, 2018

    Thanks for breaking this down, Kristen! I’ve actually never really gotten into Lent, but I try to apply the principles in my daily life all year.

    Reply
    1. kristenshaneblog
      February 14, 2018

      You’re so welcome! I love that mentality!

      Reply

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