Even in the face of a pandemic, people still received ashes this Ash Wednesday. As seen in this picture, one way was to have “drive-by ashes,” where people could pick up a little cup of ashes and do it themselves. (Photo Courtesy of Laura Stern)
Lent is a 40-day season where people reflect on Jesus’ life and what He did for humanity, also often giving up something in their own lives that is not good for them. Christians practice Lent to honor Jesus’ sacrifice when he traveled into the desert for 40 days and faced numerous trials and temptations.
“For Lent I am not eating meat on Fridays and I am giving up eating sweets like cookies and candy. I am also pushing myself not to procrastinate,” said Luke Moreda, a student at Leesville Road High School, via Instagram.
“Every year I go vegan and give up TV for Lent. It definitely isn’t fun but it’s a good thing to do,” said Genevieve Fontenot, another Leesville student, via text.
Supposedly what you give up for Lent are things that are distracting you from God. While sugar, TikTok, and whatever else may not be directly affecting a person’s relationship with God, it may be harming their lives in other ways — preventing sleep, procrastination, laziness, and more.
Instead of taking something away, many people may try to add something to their daily life. This is in the effort to focus more on God and God’s will. For example, someone might start consciously praying before bed, reading the Bible, or doing a devotional every day. There is a limitless number of ideas of ways you could participate in this season, and as long as they are positive changes, there is no wrong way to go.
Marked by multiple Holy Days, there are 40 days in the Lenten season.
Here are a few important dates to remember:
Ash Wednesday — February 17 of this year — marks the beginning of this season of prayer and fasting. Traditionally Christians go to church and receive ashes in the sign of a cross on their foreheads, but recently some pastors have started standing in public places and giving ashes to the passersby that want them. This practice is to symbolize the dust from which God creates people and is a sign of penance.
Palm Sunday — March 28, 2021 — recognizes the Biblical story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey before his crucifixion. While many think of a king as someone who looks rich and powerful, Jesus’ entrance was much more subtle. That is, until the people started laying down cloth and palms in his path, showing their love for Him. Today we wave palm branches and celebrate that triumphant day on the Sunday before Easter.
Good Friday is always the Friday before Easter — this year it lands on April 2. It is a much more solemn day and is about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christians take this day especially to remember the great pain and suffering He went through in order to save us from our sins.
Easter marks the end of Lent — technically the day after the last day of Lent. Similar to the other days in Lent, it varies every year, and this year it lands on April 4. While some view it as the day for the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts, it is also a celebration of when Jesus rose from the dead. Known to most Christians, this is not only a great part of the Bible but also an important day in the Christian calendar.
Similar to many things in the COVID era, participating in Lent is a little harder than usual. It is tougher to hold church services, normal Lenten rituals are more difficult, and even the effort to make a good change may be more of a struggle for some. However, this year is just like the others in the way that there are still strong communities of people willing to believe and help each other through this time of reflection.