Search A Catholic Life:

Saturday, February 17, 2007
What is the Origin of Lent?

Essentially, Lent is a biblical concept. Lent is a period of 40 days of penance in preparation for the solemn celebration of the Lord's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus, before beginning His earthly public ministry, fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights (Mt. 4:1-11). As the Gospel continually reaffirms, penance is an important part of repentance (Mk. 1:15 cf. Mt. 6:16-18). And, Jesus provided us with the example of fasting for 40 days and nights.

The concept of 40 days existing as a preparation was seen by Elijah, who fasted and journeyed to Horeb for 40 days (1 Kings 19:8). There are dozens of other references to the number 40 in the Old Testament.

The Catholic Fact Book, copyright 1986 by John Deedy, published by Thomas More Press, page 360:

Lent is the 40-day period (Sundays excluded) prior to Easter, which the church observes as a penitential season. It begins on Ash Wednesday (which can occur any time between February 4 and March 11, depending upon the date of Easter), and it concludes with the Passiontide, the two-week period during which the church's liturgy follows Christ's activity closely through the final stages of his life on earth. These two weeks are called Passion Week and Holy Week. It was once claimed that the Lenten practice was of apostolic origin, but historians fix its establishment at a later date, probably the 5th century. Catholics are required to fast and are urged to adopt other penitential modes during the season.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

540 ... "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning" [Heb 4:15]. By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.


del_button December 29, 2009 at 11:46 PM
Anonymous said...

I respectfully have to disagree with you on stating that lent is "Biblical" in any way. There is no reference made to it in the Bible and it holds no Bibical authority. Its roots are pagan and it is only because of the roman church is it viewed to be "Christian"

del_button February 17, 2010 at 12:29 PM
Anonymous said...

Lent goes against the bible. Read 1 timothy 4: 1-5, it says, "1. Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; 2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3. Forbidding to marry, commanding to abstain from meats, which GOD hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4. For every creature of GOD is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving. 5. For it is sanctified by the word of GOD and prayer." The bible says that abstaining from meats and forbidding the priest to marry is the doctrine of devils.

del_button February 19, 2010 at 2:58 PM
Anonymous said...

ok what Verision of the BIble Says that... Tradionally Even in biblical times ppl Fasted. and Lent is also a way of cleansing the soul and fasting like Jesus did it is meant to be observed with prayers and good works as well.

del_button February 20, 2010 at 8:24 PM
Stephanie said...

We should eat and be grateful for God provides us with everything we need through his great mercy and love for us. However, we fast during Lent (and partial abstinence during the rest of the year on Fridays and also when we are praying for a certain intention) because we are making an act of sacrifice during this most solomn and holy time of Lent. We mortify our bodies to be subject to our soul. We offer these sufferings up to our Lord in reparation for the sins we have committed in our lives and pray for his mercy. Fasting is not just old school mumbo-jumbo. It purifies us of our base desires of the flesh and humbles our bodies so that we can be more intimate with our Lord. God Bless and Have a Holy Lent.

del_button June 20, 2010 at 11:38 AM
Charles_Jost said...

First timothy 4:1 ,speaks of the doctrine of devils forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from meats/food in NAB RSV KJV etc.

Post a Comment


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to Future Posts on A Catholic Life

Enter email address: