Wednesday may seem like an odd day to begin Lent, but it is similar to Friday in recalling Christ’s Passion.
Fridays make sense, as they recall “Good Friday,” when Jesus died on the cross.
However, why did the Church pick Wednesdays?
According to A Pulpit Commentary on Catholic Teaching, one of the reasons Wednesdays and Fridays were chosen as fasting days in Rome was to counteract sinful behavior that was prevalent among pagans on those specific days.
In the early Church, Wednesdays and Fridays were appointed as days of fasting. Their choice was most appropriate, for Wednesday was then dedicated by the pagans to Mercury, the god of theft and injustice, and Friday was consecrated to Venus, the goddess of carnal love and debauchery; wherefore, fasting on those days was well calculated both to atone for the countless sins of injustice and impurity committed everywhere almost without restraint, and to keep the Christians from indulging in them.
While that may have been an early reason why those days were chosen, the primary reason Wednesday became a fasting day was in memory of Judas’ betrayal, who according to tradition betrayed Jesus on a Wednesday.
The Wednesday fast then has a direct link to Jesus’ Passion and recalls a sorrowful event in Jesus’ life. The fast became a way to atone for this betrayal as well as a reminder of how often we betray Jesus through the bad choices we make on a daily basis.
While Wednesday is no longer a fasting day throughout the calendar year, a remnant of this tradition is found on Ash Wednesday, when the Church begins its Lenten fast.
If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.
Here are some numbers:
- 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
- Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
- Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
- Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
- Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
- We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)
As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.
Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!