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Lent History and Meaning in the Catholic Church Essay

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Updated: May 5th, 2020

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that the aim of Lent is to make people ready for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ. Thus, Lent should help people achieve purification by removing selfishness and sin through engaging in prayers and self-denial. Lent should make people strive to do God’s will and make people receive God’s kingdom in their hearts. Christ and his apostles did not observe Lent. Christ also did not command his followers to observe Lent. However, Christ commanded his disciples to observe Passover and the period of the unleavened bread (The Restored Church of God 1).

According to the Restored Church of God, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are ancient traditions that the mainstream Christianity introduced (The Restored Church of God 1). It claims that these rituals aimed at replacing the Passover season. Christ observed Passover, but not Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Fasting is not necessary because through the shedding of Christ’s blood, we became pure before God.

Thus, fasting, self-denial, and restraints from pleasure cannot make us pure. The carnal mind of man can never submit to God because it seeks to do things of the flesh. Therefore, man must possess “a converted mind that has the Holy Spirit in order to do God’s will and good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). The Restored Church of God claims that Christianity teaches a false tradition by claiming that His kingdom shall come first through people’s hearts” (The Restored Church of God 1). Such teachings do not exist in the Bible. It also claims that God does not put His kingdom in people’s hearts.

The churches of the earlier period did not perform Lent (The Restored Church of God 1). Lent first appeared in Rome through an address to the church by the Council of Nicea in AD 325. In AD 360, the Council of Laodicea order for an official recognition of Lent. Lent has its roots from the Anglo-Saxon word that meant spring, and it was a part of the ancient Babylonian mystery religion. Therefore, Lent was a pagan holiday that found itself in Christian practices. This happened because Rome wanted to get both pagans and Christians together by combining these festivals. It changed the calendar to accommodate such new combinations of pagans and religion.

Explain the history and importance of the Stations of the Cross

Lent is a period of penitential in readiness for Easter. On the other hand, the Stations of the Cross celebrations are popular devotion after the ruling of Pontius, and it follows the path of Christ from the praetor to the tomb. This was the official Via Dolorosa, Sorrowful Way, or Stations of the Cross.

These are devotions of the Catholic to Christ. They honor the death and passion of Christ through Stations of the Cross. The ceremony has 14 stations, which reflect events that transpired before the death of Jesus. They consist of prayers and meditations of the 14 occurrences. It became a common practice for pilgrims to follow the footsteps of Jesus on his way to Calvary. The Muslims conquered the territory of the Holy Land and made pilgrimages dangerous for Christians.

Therefore, Christians embarked on performances of the Stations of the Cross as an alternative to visits to the Holy Land. The Stations captured significant occurrences of the Christ’s expedition to the Calvary. During the early period, Christians performed the Stations of the Cross only outside. However, by the middle of 18th century, Christians began to perform the Stations of the Cross inside their churches.

The numbers of Stations were 14, and Catholic fixed and acknowledged the 14 stations in all their churches. Catholics could individually engage in performing prayers from one station to another or they could hold an officiated prayer in which the official performed prayers and faithful respond to prayers. All stations must have 14 crosses, and a person of high position had to exalt the stations (Saunders 1).

The practice started around the fourth century when worshippers from other parts of the world came to the Holy Land (Saunders 1). They also visited the Holy Church of Sepulcher. Emperor Constantine built that church in 335 AD on top of the Calvary and the tomb of Jesus.

The devotion to the Stations of the Cross gained popularity as many people started to visit the place. During the fifth century, many people believed that churches could build holy places in some areas so that interested pilgrims did not have to attend prayers at the holy place (Saunders 1). Instead, they could engage in such prayers at other holy places. Consequently, such ideas of building holy places spread in many Catholic churches in which churches built chapels, the tomb, and other significant elements of the Holy Land (Saunders 1).

Traditional and Biblical Ways of the Cross are similar in certain events but differ in other areas. For instance, the first station of the Traditional Way presents “Jesus as condemned” (Station One) while the Biblical Way presents “Jesus as praying in the garden” (Station One: Luke 22:41-46). In fact, condemnation of Jesus by Sanhedrin is in a third station in the Biblical Way. Some of these practices remain the same in both the Traditional and Biblical Ways. However, orders of these occurrences differ in these two Ways. The Traditional Way shows that “Jesus is taken down from the Cross” (the Traditional Way: Station 13) but this is not available in the Biblical Way. However, the final presentation is “Jesus is buried” (Luke 23:55-56) in both two Ways.

Two of the stations with the meditation

Station 4: Jesus is sentenced to Death (Matthew 27:20-26) (World Bible Publishing & New Advent)

When did you go against the crowd and stand up for something you believe in?

While I was in high school, I had to stand up and go against my peers because of their attempts to introduce me to drugs. I believed in maintaining a healthy body, and I tried to avoid bad companies. This was a period of temptation because it was hard to resist my friends. However, I knew the relationship between drug abuse and peer pressure, and nothing positive could come out of it. I was glad I resisted their ways at the right time.

However, it was not easy because my peers made all manner of jokes and frowned upon me. I was determined to keep myself healthy. I achieved it because I went against the crowd. However, it was not a simple task to say no to my close friends at that age.

Prayer: Lord, we crucify you in so many ways: in our cruelty, greed, and injustice. Give us the strength to stand along with you, even to the point of death (Matthew 27:20-26).

Station 7: Jesus Is Crucified (Luke 23:32-43)

Name someone you knew or heard who gave up his life or her life for another

Anne Marie Murphy gave up her life in order to protect her students with special needs during Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York compared Murphy’s sacrifice to that of Christ. The Cardinal noted that Murphy laid down her life for her students and friends. Consequently, Murphy’s death brought truth, love, and light in a world covered with darkness, hate, selfishness, and death. The Cardinal commended how Murphy’s sacrifice awed the world. Murphy’s sacrifice brought the world, a nation, and a community together.

Prayer: Jesus, remember us in your eternal kingdom as we praise you forever (Luke 23:32-43).

Works Cited

. 2013.

Saunders, William. How Did the Stations of the Cross Begin? 2013.

The Restored Church of God. . 2013.

World Bible Publishing. The New American Bible. Iowa Falls, IA: Catholic World Press, 2011. Print.

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