Lenten Journey – week 2
What’s all this about forty days? Lent is from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday and that makes forty-six days. The answer is that we do not count Sundays in the forty days of lent. You can enjoy the Sunday as the Lord’s day to celebrate. Why not treat yourself to something as an encouragement to get on with Lent on Monday?
It was quite early in the history of the Church that the preparation for Easter took the form of forty days of special prayer and penance. The number forty was in imitation of Christ who spent forty days in the desert.
The Christians in the Eastern tradition needed seven weeks to complete their forty days because they excluded Saturday as well as Sunday from their days of penance. The Western tradition excluded Sunday only so six weeks provided thirty six days, nearly enough. Still four days more were needed to make up the
forty. The solution was to start Lent three days before the first Sunday. They did this in the Seventh century and so today we have Ash Wednesday, forty days (and six Sundays) before Easter.