Lent is the season of repentance, fasting and preparation for Christians in Pakistan.
For Christians world over, Lent is a period of 40 days that begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. They focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something. The significance of the 40-day period is based on the temptation of Jesus Christ during the 40 days and the time he spent in the wilderness.
“Lent is a time to practice humility and try to bring the reality of one’s life closer to what he or she pretends to be,” Pope Francis has said.
There is no one way to fast. Everyone fasts differently. It is a personal and sacred experience. SAMAA Digital asked three Christians on what the season means to them and how they fast.
“For me, Lent is a season of blessings gained through making sacrifices in my daily routine,” says 26-year-old Sunaina. “If I skip a meal, I try and give the money that I would have otherwise spent on food to a beggar or a homeless person. Throughout this season, I try to grow in spirituality by praying more than I usually do, devoting my time in reading more from the scriptures (Bible) and helping others in any manner possible. As a Christian I believe that Lent is not just about fasting, but the acts of goodwill that we perform in the name of Christ are what make us devoted followers of Christ.”
For Hector, 62, each person experiences a different spiritual journey during the season. “There is no set time frame to open your fast,” he says. “However, most people fast for 12 hours, from sunrise till sunset.”
According to Daniel, Lent means eschewing negativity. “For me it’s a journey to achieve the goal and our goal is Christ,” he says. “During the Lenten season we focus on three things pray, almsgiving and fasting.” Through prayer they build strong relationships with God. Through almsgiving they build good relationships with their neighbors who are in need. And through fasting they feel the hunger of the entire world. “So it’s a good time to focus on every single person who is hungry and homeless,” he says.
Important days during Lent
Ash Wednesday (March 6): It marks the start of the period and is the day for penance, in which Christians ask for forgiveness from their sins. It is an obligatory day of fasting.
During Mass (for Christians) or Worship Service (for Protestants), the priest or the pastor gives a sermon that is reflective in nature. The people are invited to receive ashes on their foreheads. The priest dips his finger in the ashes and says, “From dust you came and from dust you will return.” The ashes represent death and repentance.
When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy, according to The Catholic Spirit.
Fridays of Lent: Abstinence is required on each Friday of the Lent season. Some Christians also abstain from eating meat on Fridays. The 14 Stations of the Cross are prayed on every Friday of the season. It is 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. During the prayer, Christians recall and meditate on the events of Christ’s last day.
Holy Thursday: It is the day to remember the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, the final meal Christ shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, he predicts his betrayal.
Christians observe the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, which is also celebrated at every Mass. Lent ends and the Holy Triduum begins in the evening with the commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, Catholic Online explains.
Good Friday (April 19): The day holds significance for every believer, as it celebrates what Christians believe to be the ‘most momentous weekend in the history of the world’, as Chrisitianty.com puts it. Christians believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world, was buried and raised from the dead on the third day.
Holy Saturday: Christ is in the grave conquering death and freeing the captives. It is the final day of Lenten fasting.
Sacred Triduum: The period of three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) during which we remember Christ’s Passion.
Easter Sunday (April 21): Lent ends, and the celebrations begin. It is the day of Christ’s resurrection, on which he wakes up from the dead. Christians rejoice over Christ’s victory over sin and death for us by his passion, death, and resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.