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Who celebrates Lent? Is it only for Catholics?

LENT

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Philip Kosloski - published on 02/16/22

The answer to the question "Who celebrates Lent?" is a complicated one, as Lent is by far the least popular season in Christianity.

Many people often ask “Who celebrates Lent?,” as it can appear to some that only Catholics ever celebrate the special season of prayer and penance before Easter.

One of the reasons behind this reality is that Lent is a season, similar to Advent, that has been overrun by the feast it precedes.

By the time Lent begins, the secular season of “Easter” is in full-swing, with delectable candies and chocolate eggs lining the shelves of every store.

Furthermore, while many Christians do celebrate Lent, not all Christians celebrate Lent in the same way.

If we take the basic definition of Lent as a period of 40 days before Easter, the following Christians observe such a season.

  • Catholics
  • Eastern Orthodox
  • Anglicans
  • Lutherans
  • Methodists
  • Moravians
  • Episcopalians
  • Presbyterians
  • Reformed Churches
  • Evangelicals (Not all, but it is on the rise)

With most Protestant churches, there are some who choose to observe Lent, while others reject it entirely. Often the problem lies primarily in the emphasis on the death and suffering of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the triumph of Jesus in his resurrection.

This is a similar reason why most Protestants do not hang crucifixes in their churches or homes, and instead favor a bare cross, a reminder that Jesus has risen from the dead and suffers no longer.

If we narrow our definition of “Who celebrates Lent?” to a period before Easter that includes specific regulations for prayer and fasting, then the list gets even shorter.

  • Catholics
  • Eastern Orthodox

Many Protestants do embrace prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent, but if they do, it is generally done freely, without any direction from their local pastor or leader.

Lent is a beautiful season in the Church, one that has roots in the early Church, even though it may not suit our modern tastes.

Tags:
LentLiturgical Year
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