Lent

Lent begins this week on March 5th, which is Ash Wednesday in Western Christianity.  This is the day Catholics go to church and have ashes put on their foreheads.  Blessed palms from the previous year are burned to obtain the ashes.  It is a sign that from dust we were made and to dust we will return.

Lent is a period of forty days of preparation to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Fasting, abstinence, and alms giving, are the main tenets.  Following the example of Jesus in the desert., giving up luxuries, practicing self discipline, and spending more time in prayer provide for a closer relationship with God.

On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday the faithful fast having only one meal in the evening and abstain from meat.   The other Fridays in Lent the faithful abstain from meat.  Sundays are not included in Lenten fasts because they are celebrations in reminiscence of Easter.  Giving alms or performing works of mercy can be both corporal or spiritual.  We are always called to help our neighbor but during Lent, we are called to do more than what we usually do.

The final week of Lent begins with Palm Sunday.  This day celebrates the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem and the people lay palms down before him.  Lent ends on Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday with the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s supper.

There are many traditions that are followed before the beginning of Lent.  Fasnacht Tuesday is just one of them.   Fasnacht, is an English name for a fried doughnut served traditionally in the days of Carnival or on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent starts.  Fasnachts were made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter, which were traditionally fasted from during Lent.  This is the tradition which I grew up with.  I have memories of my mom frying up fasnachts as my mouth watered.

I no longer celebrate Fasnacht Tuesday, I do look forward to the renewal of my faith that Lent brings about and for becoming closer to the Lord and then when I renew my Baptismal vows on Easter Sunday I am more vested in my resolve in keeping them.

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