The Spiritual Practice of Lent
The course Spiritual Exercises in Religious Traditions discussed the disciplines of a variety of religions based upon various traditions. These disciplines are practiced in forms of prayer, meditation, and asceticism to achieve a sense of self control. Religions that were analyzed in this course included Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The motive of this course was to teach students how these religions maintain their discipline through spiritual practice with several reoccurring themes, including, but not limited to, breathing, fasting, sacrifice, desire, gratitude and self-denial. The purpose of this essay is to focus on the Lenten season of Catholicism and explain how the spiritual practice of Lent is specifically related to the discipline of sacrifice, fasting, and self-denial in order to achieve a greater sense of self control.
Lent is annually observed over a specific six-week period leading up to Easter Sunday. Many Christians participate in lent, however it is originally practiced within the Catholic Church. The Lenten season begins with a mass held on Ash Wednesday where Catholics receive ashes in the shape of a cross on their forehead to signify human mortality and a repentance to God. This is noted when the phrase, “Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return” is said by the priest while he applies the ashes to each person’s forehead. Traditionally, each worshipper wears their ashes for the rest of the day without washing them off. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are usually accumulated from the palms used during Palm Sunday the previous year. Palm Sunday is always held on the Sunday before Easter Sunday and is celebrated to commemorate Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem.
Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting, abstinence from meat, repentance, and marks the beginning of Lent. In society today, many Catholics give up their favorite food or bad habit during Lent. For example, people...
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