By Fran Weil
A member of the All Saint's Blogging Team
It's that time of year again: Lent.

Many of us who are Christians walk the walk of this somber time, but can't quite talk the talk about why we observe. Why do we celebrate Shrove Tuesday and what -- beyond walking around with an ash cross imposed on our foreheads -- is Ash Wednesday really about?

We listen to the homilies, we read and hear scripture, but for many of us, absorbing it all needs a Cliff Notes version of Lent, or a "Lent 101."

Want to dig a little deeper and unpack the various, intriguing aspects of Lent? Read on.

Why do we celebrate Shrove Tuesday? (Hint: it is the last day before Lent, which ushers in a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge, share and make good use of foods that might otherwise be wasted. And yes, we eat lots of pancakes flooded with syrup and fatty bacon and sausages, and cookies and cakes! Waste not, want not! )

What about those ashes on Ash Wednesday, and where do the ashes come from? (Hint: ashes serve as a reminder of repentance, humility and mortality. It is traditional to save the palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday service to burn to produce ashes for the ashes imposed on foreheads by the priest).

Why observe Lent? (Hint: it's a 40 day opportunity to re-focus our lives to let God in and improve our hearts. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.) 

Why is purple the dominant color of lent? (Hint: purple is the color of repentance for sins and is also meant to symbolize the state of our souls outside the light of Christ.)

Why is Lent considered a time of fasting and prayer? (Hint: It's a way to practice discipline and a reminder and very small way to symbolically participate in the suffering of Jesus.)

Want to read more, know more? Here are a few good resources. You don't have to read them all at once. Ration them out for yourselves and absorb. No. there won't be a quiz in the morning!

You want a quick (3 minute) primer on Lent? This YouTube video will do it!

Here's a fun video from a genial fellow named Chuck, who knows church, and is pictured at right. Click here to go.

OK, if your reading and YouTube-viewing provoke more questions than answers, all the better. Don't be shy, seek a deeper conversation about what all this means with Marya. And share your questions and insight with folks at our lively coffee hours!
Join us on this rich journey of deeper discovery and understanding in our faith walk together.


 P.S. Are you interested in contributing to this blog? If so, please let Marya or Fran know. You'll be welcome here!


  1. Fran, Thank you for your resources!!! I found Sight Psalms to be very helpful: a daily, online, photo inspiration intended to help people reflect on God’s presence in the world and in their lives through the use of images.

    HOWEVER...I could not figure out how to publish a photo that spoke to me this week of Lent either in their format suggested or here. So I will send it to Fran to publish! marya+


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