According to the testimonies of St. Irenaeus, Tertullian, and St. Dionysius of Alexandria, some fasted only one day, others two days, Friday and Saturday before Easter, others three days, others a week, and others several days, even up to six weeks before Easter the Lent Fasting.
Lent Fasting is popularly called Lent. It is the fast that precedes the feast of the Resurrection. Lent is the longest Lent, lasting seven weeks and 40 days, and is the strictest in terms of food. It was meant to prepare people to receive baptism on Easter night in the early centuries. This fast reminds us of the forty-day fast the Savior kept before His Messianic activity began, hence the name of the Passover.
By a decision taken at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 381, the Church of Rome definitively adopted the practice of the seven-week Lent of Antiochian origin. Throughout the ages, Lent has been observed with great rigor. Apostolic Canon 69 condemned the Church’s ministers to be catechized, and lay believers who did not follow the Wednesday and Friday fasts and Lent were excommunicated. Exceptions were allowed only in cases of illness.
What is the Lent challenge?
The Church has decided by canons 49 Laodicea and 52 Truman that liturgy will be celebrated only on Saturdays, Sundays, and the Feast of the Annunciation during Lent. On the other days of the week, only the Mass of the previously consecrated gifts is to be celebrated. During this fast, the celebration of weddings and feast days is prohibited.
The Lent challenge lasts seven weeks and is intended to cleanse the body of sickness and affliction, beginning after the Sunday of Adam’s expulsion from heaven and ending on Holy Saturday. Lent was instituted in honor of the Passion and Resurrection of the Saviour Jesus Christ, through whom we were s. And it is not only abstinence from certain foods but also spiritual correction through confession and good works.
During Lent Fasting, we have the disfellowshipping of fish: on 25 March, the Feast of the Annunciation, and on 25 April, the Feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem.
What is the real purpose of fasting?
As is well known, fasting is the total or partial withdrawal from certain foods and drinks, for a longer or shorter time, for religious-moral purposes. This withholding of food and beverages must, however, be accompanied by the withholding of thoughts, desires, passions, and evil deeds, which means that a spiritual fast must accompany the bodily fast. Fasting is of divine origin and establishment; that is why we find it practiced since ancient times, meeting it in almost all religions and all peoples. According to some Holy Fathers like Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and others, it has its origin in heaven through the prohibition given by God to our proto-Parathers to eat from the forbidden tree.
The true purpose of fasting is to bury our needs and desires to create a connection with Jesus and the Holy Trinity. Christian fasting is abstaining, for a time, from sweet foods – milk, meat, cheese, eggs, and their derivatives- and from drinking to strengthen the powers of the soul over the evil inclinations of the body.
Among the Saints who have particularly emphasized the importance of fasting are Irenaeus, Jerome, Augustine, Epiphanius, Peter of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Athanasius the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Timothy and Theophilus of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, Nichifor the Confessor, Maxim the Confessor, John Damascene, and others. But they do not forget to emphasize that the bodily fast without the soul is devoid of moral value.
Biography of Jesus
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Biblical places from the times of Jesus
- Jerusalem- The exact location of Jerusalem and its temple
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Read also: Is Pontius Pilate a saint? Jesus and Pilate’s conversation
What is fasting during Lent?
Fasting or abstinence from food is not exclusively a Christian practice. It has existed and still exists in other religions and even outside a faith, for example, in specific therapies. Today, people fast for all sorts of reasons, some quite bizarre. It is then essential to discern the uniquely Christian content of fasting.
Fasting during Lent is about overcoming cravings. According to tradition, the church says no singing and dancing during Lent. During Lent, no meat, eggs, milk, cheese, or other derivatives are consumed. And in Lent, there is no drinking alcohol and no smoking. Lent begins on the Monday seven weeks before the Feast of the Resurrection, after the Sunday of Adam’s Expulsion from Heaven, and ends on the evening of Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday.
Fasting during this period offers us the joy of living together with Christ, starting with your charity because Lent awakens in us that pious sadness, that quiet sadness, that gentle sadness. Fasting from sin is a battle against the devil, against Satan, a battle that brings victory. The most important thing is to feel a victory and that fasting is a joyful sacrifice for us.
Lent Fasting, seen in all its complexity, not reduced to its food aspect, together with prayer, is the most powerful form of opposition and resistance to the temptations that assail us from within and without. Let us not forget that a man enslaved by passions, no matter what office he holds, has no power over the sin-free soul in which God dwells.
Lent symbolizes in the Christian the soul elevation of mastering the soul over the bodily passions. Lent frees and eases the Christian from all temptations, the ballast, and the burden of the wicked one’s snares which bring darkness to the thoughts and confusion to the mind. It is an offering to God or, in other words, an act of worship. It is an act of repentance for sins committed and an exercise that begins virtues of all kinds.
Fasting shows us that our life without God is meaningless. Fasting is also an appeal to humble ourselves because it brings to the surface our weaknesses and weaknesses, making us understand that it is not easy to be a faithful Christian, that is, a witness to Christ through one’s own life, including simple gestures that seem insignificant to some.
Liturgical structure of Lent
Opinions are divided on the origin of the lent. Most link it to the ancient cult of the dead. Thus, according to some, fasting originates in animal sacrifices, which were brought for the dead and which the living were not supposed to touch. Others believe that the grief caused by the death of loved ones naturally resulted in the neglect of food and drink, which over time became a conventional sign of mourning, thus forming part of the rites associated with the cult of the dead.
Holy Week is distinct from the 40-day Lent in liturgical structure, also called the Lenten season. There are five special Sundays of Lent:
- Orthodoxy Sunday
- St. Gregory Palamas Sunday
- Sunday of the Holy Cross
- Sunday of St. John the Scary
- Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt
Four preparatory Sundays have been appointed before Lent: of the tax collector and the Pharisee, of the prodigal son, of the Dreadful Judgment or the Dry Leaving of Meat, and the Expulsion of Adam from Heaven or of the Dry Leaving of Cheese.
What not to do during Lent
- No weddings, christenings, and courtships during Lent.
- During Lent, the Church says no singing and dancing.
- No meat, eggs, milk, cheese, or other derivatives of these are consumed during Lent.
- During Lent, there is no drinking of alcohol and no smoking.
- No fish is eaten during Lent unless it is a day of unleavened bread.
- During Lent, a more severe fast is observed, and no food is eaten on Good Friday.
How long is fasting for Lent?
Christianity has given Lent fasting great importance in religious life and especially in monastic life, making it an act of virtue and worship, a means of progress in the spiritual life, of fighting against passions and desires. The spiritual meaning of fasting was emphasized, stating that true fasting consists of involuntary abstinence from food and drink and an unceasing effort to dominate, with the spirit, with the will, all passions, and desires.
Fasting for Lent lasts 40 days and helps us to escape the bondage of all sin. Fasting is therefore conceived and practiced in Christianity as a means of progress in virtue and as an act of worship, as a living sacrifice of piety, charity, submission to God, and a way of honoring Him.
The main reason for fasting during Lent was to prepare the catechumens to be baptized at Easter and to enter the church. However, Lent became quite naturally a period of spiritual preparation for all Christians to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Lent fasting rules
The early Christians probably fasted according to Jewish custom, but it should be pointed out that the Christian Church did not adopt any of the Jewish fasts. If, in the beginning, fasting was practiced as an act of personal piety, left to the free will and the religious devotion or the possibilities of each one, with time, the Church leadership gradually formulated rules and guidelines, more or less precise for all in this regard, regulating the time, duration and manner of fasting.
According to the Church and the Vatican clergy, there are four main Lent fasting rules; they are as follows:
- during the first five days of fasting, only two meals are allowed, one on Wednesday and one on Friday, in both cases after the Liturgy of the Sacred Office.
- on the other three days, those with power are encouraged to keep an absolute fast.
- those for whom this is not possible may eat on Tuesday and Thursday
- in the evening after vespers, when they may serve water and bread, or tea or fruit juices, but no cooked food
And even the following categories of food are wholly excluded during Lent:
- animal products
- oil and wine
After the end of a rigorously observed fast, we are convinced that we can get quickly all year round, as in Lent, in the sense of not doing anything that is not imbued with, not ennobled by, not glorified by the love of Christ.
Key Verse related to Lent
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing—grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.”
Do you fast every day during Lent?
During Lent, Christians must show excellent spiritual care by renouncing animal foods. Moreover, they should elevate themselves spiritually through prayer along with good deeds, priests say.
According to the rules of the Vatican clergy, every day is fasting during Lent. For 40 days, the length of Lent or Lent, no sweet food is eaten, and the body is purified along with the soul, the former by diet, the latter by prayer and good thoughts. So during these weeks, no meat, eggs, milk, or cheese is consumed. We will also not eat fish or butter; smoking and alcohol are forbidden.
It is also said that it is good to have a mass to sanctify the house during this period. The priest is called to the home of the parishioners, where the holy water is sprinkled on those present and all the rooms.
Can you drink water on Lent?
Lent Fasting, the longest and harshest of the Orthodox fasts, is also known as Lent. It is also reminiscent of the 40-day fast kept by Jesus Christ before the beginning of His Messianic activity and has also been given the name of Lent. In ancient times, Lent was meant to prepare those who were to receive baptism on the night of the Resurrection.
Water is highly recommended during Lent. During Lent, beginners should continue to drink 1-2 liters of water daily. This amount of water helps reduce the body burden caused by a significant amount of intoxicants entering the bloodstream, which result from fat breakdown.
According to church rites, this fasting period is reminiscent of Christ’s sufferings on the cross. Thus during this period, fasting is considered inappropriate. Lent is divided into two periods: Lent, which lasts until Palm Sunday, and Lent, which is the last week, Holy Week.
3 Ways to connect with Jesus during the Lent Fasting
God always sees us. He is with us and beside us all the time. He is the father in the parable of the prodigal son, and we are the son who, after having spent his soul’s wealth in sin, seeks to return to the father.
It is good that you are interested in finding out how to be closer to God. Departure from God comes through sin. God is a good, merciful, and just father. He does not want the death of the sinner but his righteousness. In Slow Time you can get closer to Jesus through the following three steps:
1. Make space in your life for Jesus
Make room for Jesus to work with you if you want to grow closer to Christ and your life to change. He shows Himself to you when you make space in your life.
The condition without which you can’t get closer to Jesus is free space, silence, and retreat. This is the desire the Lord demands of you when you want to be revealed to Him. He doesn’t want to occupy a corner of your life, to take second place; Jesus wants to take the foreground so that you can benefit from this closeness both now and in the future.
Turn your mind away from the world and worldly things so that there is this quiet place where Jesus can come and show Himself to you according to the power of your understanding. Let go of every day and spend time in solitude, disconnected from all that is modern life, if you desire closeness to Lord.
2. Say a cheerful prayer
By begging, we acknowledge that we need His help. Prayer is also what brings us out of sin. In this sense, prayer is the cure for bodily and spiritual healing, which cleanses man in an unseen way.
Prayer made in joy, with a cheerful soul, brings man closer to Jesus. It would be desirable to pray at all times and in good times and wrong to ask, give thanks, and bless. At all times, we need the Lord to be close to us. Pray for at least one hour in the evening and the morning if you want to get closer to Him. Pray with attention.
You must seek Him with all your heart, with all your being. Prayer is made with the whole soul, and the entire mind restores contact with Him. However far away we feel ourselves to be, we return to the heavenly Father through prayer.
3. Read the Bible
The Bible is, in a sense, the biography of God in this world. Indeed the Incomprehensible One with the mind has described Himself for some reason.
The New Testament Scriptures are a biography of the God of the Incarnate. They tell how God, to reveal Himself to people, sent God the Son, who became incarnate and became man, and as the man told people all about what God is, all that God wants from this world and the people in it.
By reading, you will learn how to escape sin’s burden. In short, you will learn the complete history of corruption, sinfulness, righteousness, and justice.
Why Lent last 40 days?
Lent is also a call to spirituality, charity, and reading the Bible, and other spiritual books. Believers should go to confession during Lent to prepare for the Impartation.
The 40-day duration of Lent is based on an old-testamentary tradition, so often attested to when it comes to searching and preparing the soul by divine measures:
- the flood, which was supposed to wash away the sins of the earth, lasted 40 days and 40 nights
- forty years the Jews ate the manna in the wilderness before reaching the promised land
- Moses stood on the mountain for 40 days to receive the Law
- The Ninevites fasted for 40 days to repent
- Jesus fasted on the mountain 40 days and 40 nights before he began his public activity
The Church had adopted this practice before the second century. IV, as a time of preparation of catechumens for baptism, rebirth, or spiritual renewal.
- Fasting is essential in almost all religions, being practiced in different forms and for various reasons.
- In ancient times, Lent was much stricter than it is today, it was observed with great seriousness and respect, and no exceptions were allowed except in the case of people suffering from a specific illness.
- Lent is the harshest and longest of the four great feasts of the Orthodox Church. It is the fast before the Resurrection of the Lord and is known as the Great Fast.
Lent has great importance in the spirituality and religious life of all believers. It is the time when most of them are imparted during this period, as the Faith teaches them. Priests advise the faithful to keep Lent strictly if their health permits, and if not, to consult each one’s confessor to be relieved of the harshness of Lent.
It is also said that children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and the sick can be exempted from fasting, but this does not mean they can do without spiritual fasting and prayer. At the same time, during Lent, there are no weddings, baptisms, or parties, practically no birthdays, and no entertainment.
If you enjoyed our article, please check our following Quiz about Jesus’ The Lent of Easter. May God bless you and keep you safe!
Bible Trivia about Jesus and His life on Earth
Explanation of biblical words
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- Chapman, D. W., & Schnabel, E. J. (Eds.). (2015). The trial and crucifixion of Jesus: texts and commentary (Vol. 344). Mohr Siebeck.
- Sherlock, T. (1800). The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. H. Tuckniss.
- Winter, P. (2014). On the trial of Jesus. De Gruyter.
- Schottroff, L. (2006). The parables of Jesus. Fortress Press.
- Walaskay, P. W. (1975). The trial and death of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Journal of Biblical Literature, 94(1), 81-93.