Saturday, February 22, 2020

Quinquagesima Sunday Final Prep for Lent

Quinquagesima is the last Sunday before the start of Lent, on Ash Wednesday. The literal name means 50 days, as in 50 days before Easter Sunday. While not being precisely 50 days, Lent represents the 40 days of Jesus' time in the desert of fasting and penance, Septuagesima literally refers to 70 days and Sexagesima 60 days. Lent itself is 40 days of fasting and penance. Sundays are not counted as they are still considered feast days - every Sunday is like "a little Easter" in that respect, so there is no fasting or penance on Sundays. 

What Will Be Your Penance for Lent?

Traditionally, in remembrance of Jesus' penance - we offer up something during Lent in communion with His suffering. It does not need to be something severe, as the purpose is to bring to mind Jesus' 40 days each time we would have partaken in that which we have offered up for Lent. Even something simple, for the first few days, can seem rather easy to give up - but it still brings to mind that when you would have eaten, drank or done that which is your penance, specifically, Jesus' suffering in the desert and generally His ultimate Sacrifice for you on the Cross. As the days turn into weeks, even the most simple of penance can become harder to resist, and become an even greater reminder of why you offered it up.

Anecdotal Examples:

In previous Lenten observances, this writer has given up something as simple as "dark soda." No colas, root beers, Dr. Pepper, or the like - leaving things like 7 Up, Fresca, and sparkling waters. Another year it was red meat, leaving chicken and pork. Another year, fried foods. By the end of Lent, the cravings were quite high for a real Coke or a nice steak or french fries! No matter how simple it may seem - it can be a valuable lesson and practice. In past days the tradition was to give up all leaven, eggs and meat (still observed in Eastern Orthodoxy, and their Lenten season is several weeks longer than in the West/Latin tradition). Giving up eggs for Lent is one of the reasons we have "Easter Eggs" - for it was such a treat to be able to eat eggs again - and in order to preserve the eggs for the season, they were boiled.


Generally, we do not do any celebrating during Lent, as it is not a time for such. If your birthday falls in Lent (which it does for this writer almost every year!) then any recognition of the birthday should be done on the closest Sunday, for again, Sundays are not days of fasting and penance.

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