In this lesson we focus on the readings and themes for the First Sunday in Lent. This lesson is intended to be a resource for those seeking to deepen their devotion as well as those seeking Theological instruction or doctrine and prayers for sermons.
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As we begin the arduous and penitential journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, we contemplate our Lord’s own temptation in the desert. Our Lord Jesus Christ has resisted all temptations and bestowed upon us an example to imitate. During the first week of Lent, let us open our hearts and minds in order to freely allow the divine grace of our Lord to work within us.
On the Great Lenten Fast:
Fasting in Lent is an ancient practice with mention of it going back to at least the 2nd century. St. Athanasius in 331 wrote strongly in support of this fast of 40 days, which at that time was before the required and stricter fast of Holy Week.
As of the reign of Pope St. Gregory the Great (590 – 604) there were six weeks of six days of fasting observed for Lent in Rome. The result was 36 days of fasting. As 40 is a Biblical number for fasting as observed in the Old Testament, the practice began of beginning Lent on the preceding Wednesday, that we know of as Ash Wednesday, in order for 40 days of Lenten fasting to be observed.
During this ancient time, the practice of fasting allowed only one meal a day to be eaten (as is the current practice); however, the meal was in these ancient times only to be eaten in the evening.
These days were at one time observed with a strict fast no more than one meal, without meat, dairy, oil, or wine. In the 10th century the custom of taking the only meal of the day at three o'clock was introduced. In the 14th century the meal was allowed at mid-day, and soon the practice of an evening collation (snack) became common. A morning collation was introduced in the early 19th century.
In the early 1900s, the Law of the Church required fasting on all days of Lent but abstinence from meat was required only on Fridays and Saturdays. However, a common practice called partial abstinence was observed, which permitted meat only once a day at the principal meal. Unique exceptions to what constituted meat differed in certain countries (e.g. capybara meat is permitted in South American countries while other meat is forbidden). In such a way, the uniqueness of an individual culture is retained and still yet forms part of the One Body of Christ.
In the early 1900s, as observed in the reading previously, there were additional days of fasting and/or abstinence in the year including the Ember Days, days of Advent, Rogation Days, Vigils of important feastdays, and the like.
Fridays and Saturdays in Advent were days of abstinence, and until early in the 20th cen... Please purchase this lesson to continue learning.
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