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What was Lent like in the early Church?

Discussion in 'One Bread, One Body - Catholic' started by Michie, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    The history of Lent is complex, as it took many centuries to develop before it became what it is today.
    Was the season of Lent always 40 days long? Were the apostles the ones responsible for establishing it? If not them, who did?

    During the first few centuries of the Church, Christians were often persecuted and it was difficult for the bishops of the Church to create an all encompassing liturgical calendar. In general, bishops were entrusted with a local church and it was up to them to lead the Christian people in the worship of God. This resulted in an early disparity in how Christians celebrated Lent.

    St. Irenaeus, during the 2nd century, wrote a letter to the pope at the time about the variety of fasts before Easter.

    For the controversy is not only concerning the day [of Easter], but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night.And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to their own simplicity and peculiar mode. Yet all of these lived none the less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.
    Early Christians were in agreement that a fast should precede the feast of Easter, but a duration of 40 days was not set in stone.

    Continued below.
    What was Lent like in the early Church?
     
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  2. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

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    Michie.. do you think the tradition of ceremony and ritual created to establish a foundation for teaching the illiterate, in the case of Lent, added to or takes away from the original intention of denying oneself in favour of others, loving all as self?

    Do we give of ourselves thus denying ourselves gratification of some sort in order to benefit another? What would be a more appropriate gesture during Lent... Forgoing watching the Bachelor or not keeping the neighbours tools? Giving up Cheetos or not pursuing the neighbours wife? :) Do you think the practice of one and not the other might open the eyes of those who had not considered the governance of God to be more wiser than the governance of man when it comes to how we should behave?

    Also might I ask.. how does Jesus' 40 days in the desert connect with Easter other than both were tests?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  3. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    I’m more of the type where I believe Lent is a time to develop new habits that benefit ourselves and others long after the Lenten season is over. I’ve never been into the “giving up chocolate” for Lent person and go right back to it on Easter Day. I understand the discipline aspect of it but I see it as somewhat silly to be honest. What we try to learn and practice during Lent should be the starting point to an all year practice imo. The neighbor’s wife/tools situation should not be an issue in a practicing Christian’s life. You can’t give up what was never yours to begin with. If you have something you should return, return it. If you are infringing on or lusting after something or someone that you have no right to, stop it.
     
  4. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

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    Agreed

    Agreed, yet the issue of self interest (man's will vs the will of God) is rarely addressed as being the main issue of man's rebellion. How would fasting replace the concept of denying self interest without addressing it directly instead of a roundabout way? All denominations seem guilty of pussyfooting around the fact God thinks we are a bunch of backwards beings while we pretend we are His buds who occasional go to our rooms without supper for 40 days. Are we being distracted by man's traditions?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
  5. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Well that true. Look at how some treat Lent as a time for a diet/health regiment. Self interest. It really misses the point.
     
  6. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, but is the whole fasting concept denying ourselves the bread of life or merely denying one bread in favour of the other?
     
  7. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    Lent is a time to draw closer to God and others and hopefully we will reap the benefits by incorporating it in our daily lives all year round. There is nothing wrong with fasting. What matters is the intent of it. Lent is not a trade off.
     
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  8. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    I forgot to answer your first question. Christianity springs from Judaism so a lot of these traditions are inspired by that. I’m sure that for those that were illiterate, it helps to teach and inspire but I see that more as a side benefit for that group of people. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of these traditions even for the literate. But I do not see it as side tracking the original intent of Lent at all. I see it as a thread of Salvation history and practice in action.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
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  9. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

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    Thank you
     
  10. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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    You’re welcome. But remember, just my POV. :)
     
  11. timothyu

    timothyu Well-Known Member

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    All points of view are to be acknowledged even if not accepted :)
     
  12. Michie

    Michie Human rights begin in the womb. Supporter

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