How long is Lent?

Posted by Laura White  ·  Be the first to comment

Lent begins on Wednesday and Easter Sunday is the 1st April this year. That’s 6 weeks and 4 days.

Now, it doesn’t take Carol Vorderman (or Rachel Riley, for more modern audiences) to work out that there are 46 days between those dates, not including Easter Sunday. So why then are we always told Lent is just 40 days?

The number 40 is pretty significant in the Bible, often used in the context of judgement or testing: In the Old Testament we can read of 40 days of rain Noah endured in Genesis, the 40 days of Moses’ intercession in Deuteronomy, and Goliath’s taunting in 1 Samuel.

But the Lent narrative tends to focus on the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the Devil at the start of his ministry:  

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:2)

Why then does Lent last 46 days and not the 40 days more in line with the Bible?

The additional 6 days are because the Sundays in Lent (6 in total) aren’t recognised as fast days or days to abstain, instead these are a “mini Easter” an opportunity to celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death and for many Church traditions, celebrations including feasting.

Of course, this isn’t set in stone and for some those “rest” days might offer up additional temptation, so it really is up to each individual to decide whether they abstain (or take up) for 40 days or the full 46 days.

Lent begins on Wednesday 14th February.

 

9th February

February 9th, 2018 - Posted & Written by Laura White

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