Why 40 Days?
Lent is described as 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the Wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.” Luke 4:1-2.
The number 40 has great biblical significance. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai. Elijah spent 40 days and nights walking to Mount Horeb. The Hebrew people wandered the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land. The number 40 in the bible is associated with a period of testing/trial leading often leading up to a profound change in the life of the person or group.
What does the Church do during Lent?
Purple is the color of lent. At the time of Jesus, purple was the color of royalty. During Jesus’ trial and crucifixion he was draped in a purple robe to mock him as the King of the Jews. Purple is used to help us remember both what Jesus when through during his passion, but also to anticipate the resurrection and Jesus’ triumph over his trial and crucifixion. As a Church we do not put flowers on the altar, we drape religious symbols in purple cloth, and we refrain from singing or saying Alleluia or Gloria.
What do we do as individuals?
The three traditional practices to be taken up during Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. While each of these practices have a part in our daily lives as Christians, we are each asked to make special commitments to each during the Lenten season.