The Discipline of Lent
On Wednesday March 5 the Christian community begins the observance of Lent. Originally in the first century Lent was only a period of forty hours in keeping with the forty hours Jesus' body was in the tomb. By the third century the observance grew into six days known as Holy Week. Today Lent begins forty-six days before Easter. The six Sundays are considered a little Easter celebration in the midst of Lent.
When Lent begins, depends upon the date of Easter. In 325 the church decided that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the full moon which occurs on or after March 21.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Pope Urban II gave "Ash Wednesday" its name, in 1099. The day is set aside as a special day of repentance and as the opening of a season of repentance. Ashes symbolize the repentance called for. In some churches the custom remains of sprinkling ashes on the heads of the faithful as the pastor says: "Remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return." To this day Lent remains a time of spiritual development and preparation for the celebration of the resurrection on Easter. Special emphasis is given to developing a deeper devotional life, teaching, outreach and prayer.