By: Allison Carrelli – Fitzpatrick
Hello fellow students and staff! Lent is right around the corner, for those of you who did not know, and for those of you who did, are you ready? If you are like me, this may be the first time you are taking Lent seriously, in the perspective of a young unofficial or official Catholic. I have never been baptized in the Catholic Church, but over the past year or so, I have become more familiar and am growing in my basic knowledge of the Catholic faith.
During my childhood, I never really lived in a religious household, and it was not until I was about thirteen or fourteen, when I truly understood what religion was or who God even was. Up until this point, I always remember Lent as being a random time of the year where on Fridays my mother would try to feed me salmon patties or fried fish—most often against my will. She would often find it a losing battle and settle for accepting a single bite as an accomplishment. As for the Easter holiday itself, most of my childhood memories consisted of large Easter baskets filled with candies and toys galore! Fast forward to now, I have developed an eagerness for this upcoming Lent season from listening to great podcasts and videos about this topic! With my excitement for Lent this year, I want to share what the basics of Lent are and some great resources if you want to learn more!
For those who are new to the topic of Lent and how it is celebrated, Lent is a period over forty days that Catholics fast, obey abstinence, and give alms. The reason behind the forty days is that back hundreds of years ago, the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness for forty years because of their disobedience and unbelief in God. Jesus also spent forty days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. This time frame of forty days lasts from Ash Wednesday, starting on March 6th until Easter on April 21st. It is during this period that specific days are also celebrated before and within the season of Lent. These days include Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday), Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Palm Sunday, and Easter.
Many people don’t relate the two, but Mardi Gras was actually incorporated by Catholics in Rome when Christianity had first arrived there. Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday in French, was a day to feast and celebrate before everyone was to start their fasting. Those who had foods that were rich and not to be eaten during Lent enjoyed them for the last time until after Easter.
Throughout Lent, Catholics are to fast. It may seem like Catholics are to maybe walk around fast or do everything in lighting quick motions. Although that is quite humorous, that is not what fasting is. Fasting is when you only have one large meal, such as a normal dinner or lunch, and two smaller meals that are no bigger than the one meal put together. An example of this is having a slice or two of toast in the morning, a normal proportioned lunch and a small side dish for dinner. When fasting, you are to also practice abstinence by abstaining from any and all meats on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all following Fridays up until Easter. The only exception to the “no meat rule” is fish. That is why you may often see signs around your local town or on the news about fish frys! Along with fasting and abstaining from meats, Catholics also give alms throughout Lent. To give alms means that you donate through an organization or the Church to give to those who are less fortunate. Catholics do this because it reminds them to be humble for the blessings that they have, and it is pleasing to God to give to those who cannot give to themselves.
With all these rules when participating in Lent you may be wondering, why? Why do Catholics obey so many rules for these forty days, and what is the point? I have come to learn that the point in all these rules and the forty-day-long celebration is because of the death and resurrection of Christ. We are to use this time to make ourselves better people from abstaining from certain things to become more humble in the presence of God. Throughout our lives we have been so blessed through Christ’s sacrifice that we have come to mistake the difference between needs and wants. Through abstinence and fasting, we are to become closer to God in understanding that He is the purpose for our lives, and we should hold him close in times of hardship and in times of celebration.
As I’m learning more and more about the Catholic faith, I have found some great resources that I would love to share with all of you! Throughout my search for information, I have found many great resources through our own Chatfield library, YouTube, and even podcasts! For my learning style, I love to listen and see the topics that are being explained to me. The podcast “Pints with Aquinas” by Matt Fradd and the YouTube channel “Ascension Presents” are my go-tos when I have a question or want to learn more about a certain topic. Here is a list of resources if you want to learn more about the Catholic faith!
If you would like to give alms this Lent, I would suggest going to your local Catholic Church or Hope Emergency located on Kernan Road in Lynchburg, Ohio.
● Rediscover Lent by Matthew Kelly
● Give Up Worry for Lent!: 40 Days to Finding Peace in Christ by Gary Zimak
● Signs of Life by Scott Hahn
● The Story of Jesus by David Angus