Lent, or Quadragesima in Latin, determines the period of forty days of preparation for Easter.
The Spiritual Meaning of Lent
“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.” ~Saint Augustine
We commonly understand Lent as a period between seasons, but it carries a tone of reflection and evaluation of what was realized and assimilated in the previous cycle. Lent comes from the sincere desire of our hearts to start anew.
About two hundred years after the birth of Christ, Christians began to prepare the Passover feast with three days of prayer, meditation, and fasting. Around the year 350 C.E., the Church increased the preparation time to forty days: the preparation for the Rebirth of Christ.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again**"
Lent, or Quadragesima in Latin, determines the period of forty days of preparation for Easter. In the Bible, and in many other sacred texts, the number forty appears in many significant ways. The forty days are an expression of a ritualistic period of initiation of which the theme is a rebirth.
The meaning of Lent as “Spring,” as it is designated by the change of season in nature; the storms, rains, and weather changes begin to tell us that change is on its way. Days become longer; seeds will soon sprout. All nature begins its awaken from the slumber of winter, and the entropy of things start to come alive.
**Note: The Greek for "again" also means "from above."
Lent as Nature's Timetable
Most of us understand Lent as a period of restriction and penance, where fasting is encouraged and perceived as a necessary step for the general preparation of Easter.
As Natures renews itself naturally, the restriction is needed at the onstage of a new cycle, before we have the seedling, blooms, and fruits of the new coming Season.
Restriction and penance do not come from the direct need for the perfections of the spiritual, but because, at this time of the year, traditionally, the food reserves that overwintered are low and we all need to adapt to it.
The observance of this Natural cycle by the old church gave birth to the tradition of restricting oneself of excesses.
The Inner Lent
This special period of greatness, as it was designed to rehearse the cycle of rebirth, as the energies of creation return to animate the previous dormant elements of life.
To follow this practice, one can develop and deepen the understanding of fasting, not as a restriction period but as a period of self-reeducation and purification. The Quadragesima should be a period where one concentrates on correcting your faults, mistakes, dependencies, and shortcomings; a time to lay out all your new plans for the future and to align oneself with the Ki (or Chi) flow of nature that facilitates the process. It is time to celebrate the light and make sustainable commitments to oneself.
1. To “restrict” oneself from being too critical or judgmental
2. To clean oneself from resentments and forgive;
3. To give up egotistical and limiting perspectives that just bring burden and worries into our lives;
4. To change your mindset about a situation, you may not be able to change;
5. To celebrate one’s life with plenitude and truth.
The Mystical Journey
Christ Jesus, after his baptism, went to the desert to meditate and pray for forty days, a time for reflection upon his mission, and there, he was severely tempted by the “devil.” But how does the devil tempt us? The word Devil or Diablo means the one that divides. It is the expression of an atavic force related to the lower levels of the astral world. Usually, the lower the feelings and mindsets, the bigger is the need for revenge, resentment. The unforgiving emotions and many limitations of our characters that hide and pervade our virtues are the feelings that can steal the silence and peace of our hearts.
When we reach the Desert in our lives, and we have reached our limits, it is time to ask for guidance, to reevaluate ourselves and our goals, and a period to plan the different directions we must travel to arrive at our destination. It is a sacred time of Divine revelation.
“From dust though art (what our physical bodies are made of – the stuff of the Earth). And unto dust, that body will return.”
The Cross of Ashes on the forehead reminds us that life is impermanent and transient, and also that only our connection with Spirit matters in the big scheme of things. The Symbol of the Cross is not necessarily a Christian symbol. In fact, it was a symbol widely utilized before the Christian era.
The vertical line symbolizes the connection between spirit and matter; as the horizontal one represents our intention to unite our will to the Divine Will.
Higher consciousness is the primary goal of the human experience in Earth School.
According to Carl Jung, one way to avoid the grasp of evil is to use a big dose of our sense of humor, because humor is an essential element that connects joy and happiness. Joy and happiness are the only two ways to neutralize the “Diablo” effect in one's life.
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