Once in a while as part of this blog I will talk about religion, my Catholic faith in particular, not trying to convert the masses, just do a little explaining but yeah, we gonna have a some church up in here.
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and thus begins the 40 Days of Lent which lead up to Easter Sunday.
Now the best part of this is the day before Ash Wednesday which in Louisiana is called “Fat Tuesday”. Since Lent is a time of sacrifice (I’ll get to that later), you live it up (PARTY!!!), the day before, you may have heard or been to “Mardi Gras” down south in and around New Orleans or even experienced Carnival down in Brazil. Same thing, the party before the holy time.
The 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days Jesus was in the desert as a means of self sacrifice and also being tempted by the devil. Check out the Bible book of John chapter 12, he tells it way better than I can.
Thus during this 40 day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, Catholics are supposed to give something up, something substantial, like my wife plans to give up fried foods (man is that a challenge for me), one of her cousins plans to not to snack between meals and in the past he & his wife gave up meat. It’s supposed to be a personal challenge to sacrifice and be like Jesus and become a better person as we prepare for Easter, the holiest part of the Catholic calendar.
Now as a rule we are supposed to eat meat any of the Fridays in Lent, as well on Ash Wednesday, this goes back to the rule when there was no meat eating any Fridays all year long but this changed along with many other things back in the 1960’s under the Vatican II rules. Still we hold the meatless rule for Fridays only during Lent, hence why you will see churches, Knight of Columbus (a catholic mens group of service), American Legion & VFW Halls have fish frys on Fridays during Lent. We can eat seafood but no chicken, pork or red meat, trust me, it’s still a sacrifice and I love me some seafood.
Some people like my aunt completely fast and don’t eat on Good Friday (the last Friday of Lent, the day Jesus was crucified), but with so many workplaces no longer giving that as a day off and we have to work, its almost impossible to pull that off. That is the saddest day on our calendar, the church is not decorated, there is mass that day but its bare bones, no music, just quiet praying and reflection.
So basically Lent starts out with Ash Wednesday, and it’s a holy day of obligation which means you need have your butt in church. And we have ashes on put on our foreheads by the priest as a means of a sign to all that we have started our journey of Lent.
The ashes come from last years palms (leaves a palm tree like down south), that are given out on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter), and they represent when Jesus came in to Jerusalem in a parade and the people waved palms as he came into town. Yes we receive palms in church that week and what are not passed out, are saved and burned by the priests the next year for Ash Wednesday.
So the point of Lent is to prepare for Easter which is basically Jesus was killed on Good Friday and then he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. His resurrection as it’s called, is what we prepare for, so we can welcome him back and become better Catholics.