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Significance of  Lenten season

Significance of  Lenten season-

By Sunmola Olowookere
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March 6, 2019 marked the commencement of the Christian Lenten season. It began with a programme called Ash Wednesday. This is one of the Christian rituals signalling the beginning of Jesus Christ ministry on earth where he fasted for forty days and nights as recorded by the Christian’s holy Bible.

From Ash Wednesday to Easter, many Christians solemnly mark their foreheads with ash, “fasting” (or abstaining from certain foods or physical pleasures) for 40 days. This is done to supposedly imitate Jesus Christ’s 40-days fast in the wilderness.

The purpose of lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. In lent, many Christians commit themselves to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert for 40 days.

Hence it has become a practice for Christians to observe this fast yearly as a way of remembering Christ’s sojourn and ministry on earth.

Unlike New Year, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day and other pagan holidays that are celebrated by the secular, non-religious world, the Lenten season is observed by dedicated religious believers.

During this period, some give up smoking. Others give up chewing gum. Still others give up over-eating or cursing. People vow to give up anything, as long as it prepares them for Easter.

In this period, some men abstain from worldly pleasures such as drinking, womanizing and gambling, all in a bid to appear holy for the Lenten season.

Many obese Christian women use Lent as a kick-starter for a diet or new exercise regimen. They begrudgingly avoid meat on Fridays

To better understand the concept of lent, it will be of good service to examine Lent, its practices and customs, its historic and religious origins, and its true meaning from the Bible’s perspective, not from the “traditions of men” .

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “the real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ…the better the preparation the more effective the celebration will be.

It is believed that the adherents can effectively relive the mystery of Christ only with purified mind and heart. The purpose of Lent is to provide that purification by weaning men from sin and selfishness through self-denial and prayer, by creating in them the desire to do God’s will.

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However, Do today’s christians still find meaning in lent? According to some critics , year by year, the season falls more into the habit of the usual routine and less about discovering Christ.

A white author, Alex Basile explains how to make Lent a way of setting new path in life. Basile is a teacher and Religion Department Chair at a School in Uniondale, New York. He has written nine books.

He wrote “Every Ash Wednesday, I hear the same old bold Lenten predictions. My family, my students, and colleagues I work with set goals for this holy season. The optimistic, but safe objectives are the same each February. I, too, attempt to eliminate some non-essential elements from my life for forty days”

 Bassile explained “We boast about our loyalty to fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. We seem to easily rise to the challenge of sacrifice during Lent. However, our main problem lies in the fact that our sacrifice is misguided.

He stated that when his students ask what our goals should be during Lent, he offered a simple three-fold approach such as;

Lent should be about living the Gospel every day. The Gospels are defined as the life, teachings, Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To get to the heart of its message, one must examine how Jesus lived.

We may be surprised that the actions of our Savior were consistently simple. He spent every moment pulling the lost and forgotten back into the fold.

Jesus chose the resume of the ultimate failure rather than the valedictorian. “

He preferred the flawed, instead of the flawless. The ministry of Christ was the first Lent. The Good Shepherd urges all of us to follow his approach. The average person usually pushes away the unlovable in favor of those more accepting and agreeable. Our attitude must be the same as Jesus.

Lent should initiate our awareness of those who need the most attention. The internet and constant new blitz heighten our awareness of global suffering. However, there are many people who live in our shadow that require our immediate care. The lonely need to hear the voice of compassion. The sick demand our companionship. The alienated call out for friendship. Our broken relationships need the assistance that only the love of Christ can repair.

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Lent requires a redefinition of the word “sacrifice.”

 We assume that the word “sacrifice” means giving something away or denying ourselves of something. Lent should raise our awareness of the things we take for granted. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes us realize that what we possess is even more powerful than what we are giving away. The abundant nature of God’s love outweighs sin, selfishness and even death.

Our Lenten sacrifice highlights our free will. Since creation, God has left us to our own devices to choose our own path. During this season, we must reflect on what we have and what we need to change. We hear of how Christians are persecuted in other countries for their faith. In a country where we say and do, as we please, are we giving Jesus and those around us all that we truly can?

 Lent is time for spiritual “spring cleaning.” After a long winter indoors, we long to throw open the windows and clean the house of unwanted dirt and dust. Lent urges us to the same. What are the unwanted habits that you want to eliminate from your life? What are the certain behavioral patterns that make you less than the perfect Christian does?The way to answer these questions is through reflection and prayer. Older Catholics speak of a type of Lent where music and television were put on hold for the season. Although this practice has faded, we must discover our own peace and quiet during Lent. The only way to reveal the interior life is through silence. Separate from the chaos and surrender to prayer. Put yourself in the presence of God and just talk to Him.Follow the advice from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta:

“As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst…’Repent and believe’ Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”

All the three points enumerated above are the thoughts of this great teacher. The three branches of his thoughts indeed show that lent is beyond the ceremony that we carry out in Churches.

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It is way more deeper than that. However, the church today has lost sight of these values. The church today has no patience for a flawed sheep. Even now when they ask for multiplication, they openly thus

“Lord add more people to us. Those that you have prepared well and perfected….”. What a prayer! Then what happens to the lost sheep?”.

Also speaking on the significance of the season, a pastor, Reverend Amos Adeyemi stated that many believers try to be more disciplined for Lent and give up something that they really like. He regretted however that most believers have lost sight of what is most important; calling the ” sinners ” to repentance.

While agreeing that Fasting has always been an important tradition of Lent, he urged Christians to consider other things that they should give up in their attitude during this season.

Give up bitterness and be full of hope in spite discouraging economic reports that abounds in the media, he urged Nigerians.

Qouting from Deuteronomy 31:8, he read “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: he will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

” But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” He assured.

“Give up anger. Be more patient.But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. A hot tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”

He argued that anger had caused destruction of properties and death of so many innocent people in the country as they lost their lives to eruption of violence in some volatile parts of the country.

Pastor Adeyemi preached love as a panacea to anger. He admonished “Return good for evil. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. But I tell you who hear me; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. These are sound Bible teachings”

He finally advised that believers should give up gossiping. He emphasized “control your tongue. Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from danger”.

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Significance of  Lenten season

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