Palm Sunday, Clean Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), Ash Wednesday,
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Lent concludes -- Easter -- Ascension and Pentecost
The Lenten fast was first inserted into canon law of the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The council also settled on the 40-day period of fasting, and the Quadragesima (Latin for forty) was established as the standard length of time to celebrate Lent. Originally, Lent was exactly 40 days in length, ending on "Holy Saturday" the eve of Easter Sunday. Prior to the Council of Nicaea there is no mention of the Lenten season of fasting and abstinence in any church literature. Yeshua did not teach this, the apostles did not practice this, and there is no scriptural mandate for Christians to practice this tradition of Catholicism.
It wasn't until 601 AD that Pope Gregory moved the beginning of Lent to Ash Wednesday, 46 days prior to Easter. This change allowed for 40 days of fasting with six Sundays counted as non-fasting feast days. Pope Gregory also instituted the tradition of marking parishioner's foreheads with ashes in the shape of a cross on the first day of Lent.
Since then, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season which is basically intended to be a period of fasting and repentance. There is no established rule or regulation anymore regarding what participants should fast from. The general idea is that participants should cease doing something that they normally enjoy. This can mean anything from eating meat, drinking alcohol, watching TV, or playing video games. As long as it means something of a personal sacrifice.
Marking oneself with ashes on the forehead, would seem to be proudly calling attention to oneself as a participant in the Lenten fast. However, one might consider the words of Yeshua on the matter of fasting:
Lent is the 40 weekdays lasting from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday) observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant churches as a period of penance and fasting. Sundays are exempt from the fast, so the season of Lent is actually 46 days in length. This is all said to be done in order to imitate the Messiah's 40 day fast in the wilderness. (see - Matthew 4:1-2)
So many of Catholicism's holidays are celebrated widely, not only by religious, but secular, non-Christian people around the world. Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc. have been taken up by non-Catholics for reasons primarily commercial. But Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter, is a more solemn period for the serious, the dedicated, the sincere orthodox Christians of the great religious institutions. Just the same, it's not scriptural - so - one may wonder, where did the observance of Lent come from.
the specious season of Lent
So much of the religious traditions of Christianity are rooted either in paganism, or the laws of men rather than the laws of God as found in scripture. It becomes difficult to sort out what is right, and scriptural, and what isn't. An observant Christian believer is alerted to turn away, rather than follow along whenever the laws of God are pushed aside in favor of the laws of men. It's a curious thing about Christian traditions, that in nearly every case, they turn out to have pagan origins and significance, or are the contrived devices of men wrapped inventively in layers of Christian interpretive concealment. One only needs to peel back a few layers of camouflage to discover the self-evident what's what. As a case in point, Easter and the date of its celebration (see- Easter) determine the dates of other celebrations that key off of it. So much of these other celebrations are likewise cloaked in false Christian teachings and traditions.
The seasons of Lent and Easter are generally treated as two separate ecclesiastical seasons by the church, but they run together in such a way that in reality they are just one long liturgical season.
Of course, it goes without saying, that in preparation for a period of fasting, one must first over-indulge and binge on food and drink that might not be allowed during the fast. Rich foods, such as pancakes and butter for instance. Pancake Tuesday in some places immediately precedes Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. They call it Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday, and while it isn't as well-known as Mardi Gras, it's widely celebrated mainly throughout the United Kingdom. The term "Shrove" is past tense of Shrive, which is a verb meaning to attend confession and be absolved of sin.
Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," and is the last day of a season called Carnival, which likewise ends on Ash Wednesday. Carnival is characterized by partying, feasting, drunkenness, and dancing in the streets. Mardi Gras is the culmination of these festivities, and features parades, and shameless debauchery. Carnival is typically celebrated in Catholic countries of southern Europe, Latin America and New Orleans. The next day (hangover day) is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, a time of penance, sacrifice and austere fasting for forty days. Lent is intended to be a period of preparation and purification for Easter. None of this is scriptural, and there is no historical tradition of the early church celebrating anything like Lent, and certainly nothing like Mardi Gras. Christians are absolutely under no obligation whatsoever to participate in anything related to the Lenten season.
But even these "pre-Lenten" activities are but part of the picture. Aside from the Roman Catholic traditions, churches of the Anglican Communion, as well as some other Protestant churches observe Ash Wednesday as well. However, the Eastern churches have a different way. Eastern Rite churches do not observe Ash Wednesday. Their Lent begins on the preceding Monday, which they call "Clean Monday." For the Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox the Lenten season is already underway before Ash Wednesday in the Western churches.
However, there isn't much agreement, even among the Eastern churches concerning the date of Clean Monday. This is because the dates of Ash Wednesday and Clean Monday key off the date of Easter. Eastern Rite Catholics follow the Roman Catholic tradition for setting the date of Easter, using the Gregorian calendar, while the Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar, which normally places the date of Easter on a different Sunday.
As Lent began to be observed, after Nicaea, the fast consisted of only one meal per day, in the evening. No meat, fish, or animal products of any kind were allowed (such as milk, eggs, etc.). But by the ninth century, some Lenten practices were already becoming more relaxed. First, Christians were allowed to eat after mid-afternoon. By the fifteenth century, it was moved to as early as noon. Eventually, various foods (like fish) were allowed, and in 1966 the Roman Catholic church urged only 2 fast-days for Lent, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It should be noted, however, that fasting practices in Eastern Orthodox churches are still quite strict.
There are some that believe the season of Lent had pagan origins, but there is a lack of compelling evidence to support this assertion. We find no link between Lent and the "weeping for Tammuz" observance that came from Babylonian paganism, a six-day celebration of the summer solstice. Only that Ishtar (Easter) was the wife of Tammuz according to the mythology. Rather, Lent seems to be nothing more than a sloppy aggregation of Judeo-Christian laws devised by men.
The Carnival celebration would seem to be the only other aspect of Lent that might have a correlation to pagan practices. In the pagan celebration known as "weeping for Tammuz," participants would engage in a short fasting period of a few days. They were known to engage in glutinous feasts of eating and drinking in preparation for the fast. (see Ezekiel 8:14-17)
Historically, periods of grief and mourning, or repentance, often included sackcloth and ashes. Fasting is also known to be an element of mourning, but a long 40-day period of fasting, interspersed with feasting on every seventh day has no Biblical correlation. The resurrection, though, would be an event so joyfully astonishing as to undo any sense of grief associated with the Lord's earthly death. At any rate, there is absolutely no evidence of the apostles or disciples practicing anything like a Lenten season. It seems to be nothing more than an invention of men that came much later, not a mandate of God.
Lent concludes with "Holy Week", which begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday one week prior to Easter Sunday. This is said to commemorate the event where Yeshua entered Jerusalem riding the colt of an ass (see Matthew 21). He entered the city triumphantly being greeted by throngs of people singing praises to the king of the Jews and waving palm branches. This event is recorded in all four Gospel accounts.
Holy Week continues with "Maundy Thursday," said to be a commemoration of the Messiah's washing the feet of the disciples prior to eating the last meal with the apostles. This is followed by "Good Friday," the commemoration of the crucifixion. On this day church bells are silent, and in many places the "stations of the cross" are performed, reenacting the final hours of the Messiah. Then the final day of "Holy Week" is "Holy Saturday," a day of vigil, awaiting the resurrection.
Then there is Easter Sunday. The word Easter does not occur anywhere in scripture, but rather, celebrates a pagan goddess of fertility, and many associate the resurrection of the Lord as an equivalency correlating to the springtime renewal festival of Ishtar. The date is carefully arranged on the Christian liturgical calendar so that it will never occur on Nisan 14 of the Hebrew calendar. This is solely for the purpose of segregating Christian and Jewish celebrations. The word "Easter" is the English transliteration of the name of a pagan goddess, Ishtar, or Astarte. Scripture says one should not even speak such a name.
There is no record of the apostles celebrating anything like Lent or Ash Wednesday. In the early, post-apostolic church, Irenaeus (130-200 AD) wrote that some Christian communities observed a period of fasting for the one or two days leading up to the celebration of the resurrection. It wasn't until the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) that it was decided to extend the period of fasting to a 40-day Lenten season. Still, there was no universal agreement, and different churches developed different traditions of observing and counting the days of Lent.
see - Easter
The "season" of Easter begins with Easter Sunday, and ends with Pentecost.
Ascension and Pentecost
The feast of Ascension is a commemoration of the event where Yeshua ascended triumphantly into His heavenly glory. This holy day is celebrated in various ways, among all the ecumenical churches of Christendom. Traditionally, the date of this celebration was 40 days from Easter Sunday, falling on a Thursday called "Holy Thursday." (see Acts 1 ) In Greek it's called Analepsis, meaning the "taking up," and is one of the twelve "great feasts" of the Eastern Orthodox liturgical calendar.
First references to a celebration commemorating the Messiah's ascension don't appear in the Christian record until the fourth and fifth centuries. In many places of the Christian world, the celebration is moved from Thursday to the following Sunday, largely for simple convenience. The Roman Catholic church as well as many Protestant churches permit this move. It is generally celebrated much later by the Eastern Orthodox churches, due to their use of the Julian calendar, and their observance includes an all-night vigil. All of Christendom celebrates it on the wrong day, because it keys off the date of Easter, the resurrection, which is always celebrated on the wrong day.
It is understood by Christendom, apparently, that getting the days and seasons right, is not something Yahweh concerns himself with. It is taught that God doesn't mind about getting it right, He understands our human deficiencies. Then again, He did create the sun and moon, "And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years." - Genesis 1: 14
Signs and seasons, days and years suggests God is a timekeeper, and he always has been, even before men and women were put on this earth. Therefore, it's the religionists who don't concern themselves too much with dates and times and seasons, while at the same time, they absolutely do. A curious dichotomy.
Pentecost occurs on Sunday, 10 days after Ascension, or 50 days after Easter Sunday (as usual, typically celebrated on the wrong days). At this time the Easter season is drawing to a close. Roman Catholics prepare for Pentecost Sunday by praying to the Holy Spirit, asking for the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. The prayer is called the Novena to the Holy Ghost, and can be prayed any time of the year, but traditionally it is prayed for the nine days from Ascension Thursday to the day before Pentecost Sunday. During the period of 50 days between Easter and Pentecost, fasting and kneeling are strictly forbidden, as this period is supposed to be a foretaste of life in heaven.
Pentecost (Greek Pentēkostē) meaning 'fiftieth', is the Christian substitute for the Jewish Feast of Shavuot which is celebrated 50 days after Passover. Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Christian religion, commemorating the event where the Holy Spirit made its extraordinary manifestation as it descended upon the 120 Jewish Christians that were gathered in the upper room. This event represents the commencement of the New Covenant. (see Acts 2) As Pentecost Sunday brings the Easter season to a close, the Roman church reverts back to what they call "ordinary time," until 'Advent' and the beginning of the Christmas season.
"Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” - Matthew 6: 16-18
"And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth." - Exodus 23:13
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. - Prov. 30:8
Ash Wednesday (the beginning of the Lenten season) is Wednesday March 2
and Lent will end on Saturday April 16, 2022
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