Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. Historically, the season of Lent began as an intensive final period of preparation for those catechumens (converts under training) who had been set apart, after considerable preparation, to be baptized at the Easter Vigil (which, in those days, was observed the Saturday before Easter and concluding with sunrise on Easter morning. This tradition continues in the Roman Catholic tradition among others, but rarely goes all night long). At the Council of Nicea, A.D. 325, Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem told those to be baptized, “You have a long period of grace, forty days for repentance.” By the time of Augustine (in the early 400s), Lent had become a time of preparation for all Christians, baptized or not. It begins on Ash Wednesday; the Sundays in Lent are not counted as part of the forty days.
Lent is the season in which we anticipate that final trip to Jerusalem and the self-giving nature of love shown in Christ’s passion and death.
Lent has now become a time for our own exploration of repentance, forgiveness and grace, as well as exploring our own nature of self-giving love as shown to us in Jesus Christ.
May God be with you on your Lenten journey.