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Importance Of Lent

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The cultural group that I feel I belong to is the Catholic religion. My mother and grandmother raised me as a Catholic and I regularly attended Sunday church until I graduated from high school. I no longer attend church on a regular basis, but I do go to church on Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. The food-related practice associated with the Catholic religion that I will discuss is not eating meat on Fridays during the Lent season and fasting during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Even though I do not attend church on a regular basis, I do still observe the tradition of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent and eating only one full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Some Catholics still observe Lent by not eating meat during the full forty days. The purpose of Lent is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, penitence, and simplicity. Lent is the 40-day season before Easter, not including Sundays, lasting from Ash Wednesday until the end of the Holy Week. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras, is typically a celebration for many as Catholics feel it is their last day to party until Easter. Ash Wednesday is the first day of the penitential season of Lent. Some traditions of Ash Wednesday are fasting and placing ashes on your forehead. The Holy Week is the last week of Lent before Easter, which begins on Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday. Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent where we commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. Holy Thursday, also known as Mundane Thursday, celebrates Jesus' institution of the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Ordination. Good Friday is a fast day of the Church commemorating Jesus' crucifixion and death. Fasting on Good Friday means eating only one full meatless meal on this day. A person may still eat breakfast and lunch as long as the two meals don't add up to a second full meal. Snacking is not allowed during fast days but drinking liquids such as coffee and juices are allowed. (http://www.cresourcei.org/cylent.html)

On Fat Tuesday, which my grandmother still calls Shrove Tuesday, my family use to get together and have a big feast in preparation for Lent. I remember when I was around fifteen and my mother let me have a whole glass of wine. That was significant to me as I felt that I was growing up. My grandmother would always tell stories of her Lent experiences as a child and would tell us how much Lent meant to her. She wanted to explain to us children that Lent was more than just fasting and prayer; it was a time to remember Jesus' sacrifices for all of us. As is the tradition for many Catholic families, my family has always ordered fish fry on Friday nights during Lent. As a show of respect towards my mother, I attend church with her on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. After church on Easter Sunday, my family eats at my grandparents' home. My grandmother always says a prayer before anyone starts their meal. The main course is always ham.

Many non-Catholics know the basic rules of Lent, such as not eating meat on Fridays, but they do not understand why we follow these traditions. Not eating meat on Fridays is a sacrifice that many Catholics make to show discipline, devotion, and preparation towards God. Since our Lord made the ultimate sacrifice of dying on the cross for us, we show respect by sacrificing something in our lives. Fasting is more than a means of self-control. I believe that it should be linked to our concern for those who are forced to fast because of poverty and for those who are in need for any reason. Fasting can help us realize the suffering that so many people in our world experience every day, and it should lead us to greater efforts to alleviate that suffering. During Lent, Catholics take more time to remember the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in a special way. They recommit to living as followers of Jesus and give up negatives in their lives to help remember the greatest positive, which is God. Catholics also tend to pray more during Lent, which signifies that they are willing to take that extra time out of their lives to become closer to God. They also use Lent to acknowledge the necessary changes that need to be made in their lives.

The two issue involved with the Catholic season of Lent are between the Eastern Church and the Western Church. The Western Church consists of Protestants, Catholics, and

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