Lent in the Eastern and Western churches

Great Lent is a liturgical season that unites the Christian churches in the East and West. Forty days of prayer, penance and charity to get to live the days of passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The number 40 is very important to our Jewish brothers, authors of the Bible. The people passing 40 years in the desert after the liberation from Pharaoh. The prophet Elijah came after 40 days on Mount Horeb, where he listens to God.

Jesus Christ spent 40 days in the desert and defeat the temptations of the devil.
The authors of the Bible give great importance to the numbers. Forty is the time needed to accomplish a good thing.

Ash Wednesday is an ancient rite of the Church that calls to mind the baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation. The custom dates back even before the people jew. Even today the farmers after the harvest ended, burn the bushes. After they take the ashes and sprinkle them on the ground to give him humus. The ashes symbolize the desire for conversion, the will to give themselves to God.

In the Catholic Church until the fourth century, the papal liturgy was silent. The pope received the ashes from a bishop in the chapel of St. Anastasia al Palatino.

The Orthodox Churches call “great” the period of Lent. The five Sundays are dedicated to the desire to meet God, humility, the remembrance of the return from exile, the Last Judgement and forgiveness.

Anglicans have maintained the liturgical practice. Lutherans respect very much the fast, it starts on Tuesday night before Ash Wednesday.

Fasting does not want to mortify the body. God loves our body. The Word became flesh. Fasting means that the believer can give up everything, but not to God.

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