Definition of Lent

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Lent is a Teutonic word that refers to a 46 day (40 days not including Sundays) religious observance that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Saturday before Easter (called 'Holy Saturday'). It is a time of fasting, introspection, and repentance practiced by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other groups.

In the middle ages, meat, eggs, and milk were forbidden to be eaten during Lent not only by church ruling but also by statute law. The chief Lenten food was fish, and entries in the household accounts of King Edward III (who reigned England from 1327 to 1377 A.D.) show the amount of fish supplied to the king.

The term Lent in reference to a period of fasting before the resurrection of Christ is not found in the Bible. The fact that this observance was NOT practiced by the early New Testament church is confirmed by the following.

"The passage of primary importance is one quoted by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., V, xxiv) from a letter of St. Irenaeus to Pope Victor in connection with the Easter controversy. There Irenaeus says that there is not only a controversy about the time of keeping Easter but also regarding the preliminary fast . . . He also urges that this variety of usage is of ancient date, which implies that THERE COULD HAVE BEEN NO APOSTOLIC TRADITION ON THE SUBJECT . . .

"We may then fairly conclude that Irenaeus (who lived between 130 to 202 A.D. and is considered a 'church father' by the Catholics) about the year 190 (A.D.) KNEW NOTHING of any Easter fast of forty days . . .

And there is the same silence observable in all the pre-Nicene Fathers (those who lived before the Council of Nicea which took place in 325 A.D.), though many had occasion to mention such an Apostolic institution IF IT HAD EXISTED" (1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article on the religious observance).

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According to the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, today's Christian observance of Lent did not take full shape until the middle of the 5th century. Its origin in human history, however, may be far older than some realize.

"This is a commemoration of Tammuz’ death. The legend of his death claims that he was killed by a wild boar when he was 40 years old. (It) is celebrated one day for each year of Tammuz’ life (Doc Marquis, America’s Occult Holidays). Participants are to express their sorrow over Tammuz’ untimely death by weeping, fasting, and self-chastisement.

Lent was observed exactly 40 days prior to the celebration of Ishtar - Esotre and other goddesses by the Babylonians and, at times, by the ancient Israelites. (Occult Holidays or God's Holy Days by F. Coulter, 2nd edition, page 79).

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