The traditions of Lent are fascinating. Most of what we consider biblically-dictated necessities are in fact later additions to the Christian portfolio of sacrifice and ritual. In an article by Scott P. Richert at the website Thought Company, we learn that fasting has been included in the Christian observance of Lent as a matter of self-discipline and an opportunity to step away from the world and reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross. Click here to read the entire article. He says, “From the earliest days of Christianity, Lent, the penitential period before Easter, has always been a time of fasting and abstinence. While the Lenten fast today is confined to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat is required only on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and the other Fridays of Lent, in previous centuries the fast was quite severe. Christians abstained from all meat and items that came from animals, including butter, eggs, cheese, and fat. That is why Shrove Tuesday became known as Mardi Gras, the French term for Fat Tuesday. Over time, Mardi Gras extended from a single day to the entire period of Shrovetide, the days from the last Sunday before Lent through Shrove Tuesday.” Most Christian holidays actually coincide with the dates and times of holidays which were celebrated in Europe in the days before Roman occupation.
The term “Shrove” derives from “shrive”, which is an ancient word meaning “to confess”. Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent was the day when people would eat up all the foods on hand which would be forbidden during Lent. All those good “fatty” foods would be consumed rather than allowing them to go to waste during the forty days of abstinence. “Carnivale” the Brazilian interpretation of Mardi Gras, is actually the word for “without meat”.
Fortunately for us, the Church of the Red Rocks observes Lent with a Wednesday Lenten Luncheon which features delicious homemade soup and warm bread, followed by meditation and worship. Please join us on the remaining Wednesdays in Lent at 11:30 am.