Christians mark start of Lent this week

Associate Pastor Ethan Southard places repentance ashes on the forehead of a woman at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Austin Dave/The Signal
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Many people in the Christian faith spend a Wednesday in February in church services to recognize Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, which is celebrated throughout the following six weeks.

Lent is a 40-day period spent preparing for the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, or Easter Sunday. To prepare, praying, fasting and giving are common practices during Lent.

“During this time, it’s important to focus on resurrection,” said Bobbi McMasters, assistant pastor at Newhall Church of the Nazarene. “A lot has happened within the community in the last year, so now we’re able to reflect and become spiritually healthy.”

Prayer during Lent focuses on repentance of sins. By repenting, people can ask for God’s forgiveness and receive mercy. Services of Jesus’ resurrection are commonly given throughout Lent to teach the significance of Good Friday, the day Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, Lent and Easter Sunday.

Fasting is another common practice during Lent, or the act of giving something up. Many people acknowledge this area of Lent by giving up unhealthy food or a bad habit. This is supposed to be a reflection of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Making a sacrifice is also meant to replace that time with spending more time connecting with God.

“People give up things that prevent them from hearing God’s words clearer,” said McMasters. “The subtraction of giving something up will add time to study his word and focus on his love.”

Typically, Ash Wednesday and each Friday during Lent are the days to fast. It’s common for people to fast from all foods during this time, but others may refrain from just eating meat and poultry and vegetarian or seafood dishes are eaten as a replacement.

Lent is an opportunity for people to give charity or take part in volunteer work. By giving to others during lent, a bad habit is being replaced by a good one.

Taking part in the practices during Lent are meant to reinforce the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection and provide people with their own self-reflection.

“It’s a time to take on Bible reading,” said McMasters. “It’s time to take a very personal walk with Jesus and focus on his resurrection.”

Metro Creative contributed to this report.

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