observing penitential season of Lent

Andrew Entzminger explains the church season of Lent and gives a brief history.

Andrew Entzminger, Writer

My name is Andrew Entzminger. I’m a junior journalism major and I’ll be bringing you all of the latest Lent happenings over the next seven weeks. I will touch on such exciting topics as what Lent is, why we celebrate it, how it originated, why fasting is good for your soul and your body and a reflection on Holy Week.

As for me, I’m an Anglican Catholic participating in my first Lent. It will be a learning experience for me, and hopefully a reader or two learns something with me about this old and beautiful church tradition.

Lent dates back to Council of Nicea

If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen posts about people giving up various things for Lent, including Facebook itself. But what exactly is the purpose of giving something up for Lent?

Well, Lent is a 40-day fast celebrated by Christians, arguably dating back to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. During this period of time, Christians are encouraged to give up one or more of their vices in order to share in the suffering of Christ, as it says in Romans 8:17. The fast begins 46 days before Easter on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter Sunday.

“But wait!” an astute reader might say. “You said Lent was 40 days long. Why does it begin 46 days before Easter?” Well, let me tell you about feast days. Traditionally, the church has held that every Sunday is a feast day in honor of Christ’s resurrection, even during penitential seasons such as Lent and Advent. So, there are six feast days during Lent in which the members of the church are allowed to break their fast to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Not too late to fast for Lent

It’s a little late to fast for all 40 days, but I’d still encourage you to pray and ponder what might be a vice in your life you need to give up in order to realign yourself with Christ. Find out what it is that your flesh uses most often to keep you from getting closer to your savior and deny that to your flesh until Easter.

As for me, I’m giving up all food from 6th Street Grill and the Pizzeria in the Caf, as well as most fast foods. I’ve left a little wiggle room for Rain Check days at Chick-Fil-A. But that’s not the hard part of my fast. I’m also giving up Netflix, video games, including cell phone games, and I am not partaking in any movie watching by myself. The only exception is the occasional movie with my roommates and my girlfriend.

Weekly reflection posts

So far, in the first week of Lent, I’ve managed to only break the diet once (the aforementioned Rain Check at Chick-Fil-A), and I haven’t broken the media fast at all. Personally, I’m surprised at my discipline, and I hope and pray that the coming weeks will be as disciplined as the last week has been. I’ve also been praying more consistently, and because of the added free time, I’ve been reading my Bible more.

Stay tuned for my next post this Sunday, which will be all about the history of the Lenten fast, plus an update on my own fast.

If you’re fasting for Lent, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at [email protected], or leave a comment below.

Andrew Entzminger is a writer and blogger for The Chimes. He attends St. Matthew’s Anglican Catholic Church each Sunday in Newport Beach, Calif., and enjoys listening to music and, when not fasting from it, watching “Futurama” and “Arrested Development” on Netflix.

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