Whenever I attend a concert, a sporting event, a worship service, or go to hear a speaker, there is always an introduction, a “prelude” to the main event.
The prelude prepares us for what is to come. So it is with Lent!
For Christians, the main event has always been Easter! From the time of Christ’s death-and-resurrection, Christ’s people have celebrated His triumph over Death! Once every year, Christians celebrate Easter Sunday; in earlier times, Christians celebrated every Sunday as a “little Easter,” since it was on a Sunday that Christ rose from the grave.
LENT is that 40-day season (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter Sunday. The 40 days of Lent symbolize: (1) the 40 days Christ spent fasting and praying in the wilderness, preparing himself for ministry; and (2) the 40 hours Christ spent in the tomb, awaiting his day of victory.
In the time immediately following Christ’s resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, the Church was growing rapidly; as thousands of new converts clamored to join the Christian Community, the Church was very particular about whom it would allow to become members.
New converts, or confirmands, were required to go through a 2-year time-of-training before being admitted into Church membership. Confirmands, during those 2 years, could attend Worship Services, could join in the singing and praying; confirmands could not receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, or hold a position of leadership in the Church.