From The Hand of Fr. Aaron Ferris…March 4, 2018

This season of Lent, that sta11ed for the catechumens, was expanded to include all Christians preparing for Easter, eventually became codified in the yearly cycle of the Church’s calendar. This took a while to develop, and it experienced changes over the years. Many questions had to be answered, and different places had different answers. When was Easter’? How long should Lent last’? The answers to these questions would change over time as other things changed.

In the western world, we switched from the Julian Calendar (instituted by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.) to the Gregorian Calendar. Many Eastern Christians still maintain the Julian Calendar, which means there are significant differences in the celebration of certain feasts. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, Lent was forty days long, but there were about three weeks prior to Ash Wednesday that were also considered part of the penitential season. Those of you of a certain age might remember Septuagesima, Sexagesima, a Quinquagesima Sundays.

Amid all these changes, the Season of Lent has also taken on new meaning. Yes, Lent is first about our preparation for celebrating the mysteries of Holy Week and Easter, the mysteries of our salvation. However, as the Church Year settled out, Lent also became a time for us to walk slowly with Jesus through His preparation for Holy Week.

The whole Church year is, more or less, a yearly walk through the whole scope of salvation history. Advent is our time to walk from Creation, through the Patriarchs, to the Birth of Jesus. The Christmas Season slows down a bit to focus our attention on the first weeks, months, and years of Jesus’ life. The weeks between the Christmas Season and Lent are a brief time for us to engage the three years of Jesus’ ministry. During Lent we spend time with Jesus who resolutely walked to Jerusalem to engage in the contest for our salvation. During Holy Week and Easter we slow down even more, going day by day through the Passion, Death, Resurrection, and subsequent days of Christ’s life on earth. After Pentecost, we are in the time of the Church, that will continue on through history until Christ comes again in glory (the closing feast of the year being Christ the King).

The Season of Lent, then, becomes part of our participation in the life of Christ, both as He lived it on earth Himself and as He lives it through the Church. It is a time for individual growth in holiness as well as an opportunity to corporately grow together as the Body of Christ. All of history is under God’s care, from the grandest, cosmic scale events (Creation) to the more mundane aspects of life (Jesus’ circumcision). All of them find their meaning in Christ, just as our lives find their meaning in union with Christ.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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