Lent is a forty-day liturgical season that celebrates the most sacred part of the Christian year. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and it concludes on the Vigil of Easter. Sundays are not included in the 40 days count because Sundays are joyful celebrations of Jesus’ Resurrection.
The number 40 carries biblical and secular significance. Here are some interesting facts:
- Forty is the only number in English, which has its letters in
- Minus 40 degrees is the only temperature that is the same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
- Forget “nine months” – a typical pregnancy actually lasts for 40 weeks. (Reader’s Digest, January 2016)
In the Old and New Testaments of the Bible:
- The Great Flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights (cf Gn 7:12);
- The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years
(cf. Num 14:33-34);
- Moses conversed with God on Mt Sinai for 40 days before receiving
the Ten Commandments (cf. 24:18);
- Elijah journeyed for 40 days before he reached the cave at Horeb
(cf. 1 Kgs 19:8-9);
- The people of Nineveh fasted and repented for 40 days in response
to the preaching of Jonah (cf. Jonah 3: 4-5);
- Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness being tempted by the
devil (cf. MT 4: 1-11, MK 1: 12-13 and LK 4: 1-13);
- The feast of the Presentation of the Lord occurs 40 days after the
birth of Jesus;
- In between Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, He appeared to his
Apostles and various people for 40 days.
This year the Church in Peninsular Malaysia celebrates its 40 years journey of renewal, which started in 1976.
The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which falls on 10 February 2016. It is a season of true meaning of prayer, penance, reflection, fasting and alms-giving, which prepares us for Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. I hope as we journey this Lent together we improve our daily living and spirituality.
During this season, God restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us because he is merciful to repentant sinners and brings good out of evil.
“I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you
I would like to take this opportunity
to wish our Chinese brothers and sisters
A “GONG XI FA CAI”
and A BLESSED LUNAR NEW YEAR.
Fr. George Packiasamy.