BASIC R.C. BELIEF
The name given to the 40 week days before Easter, starting Ash Wednesday.
During Lent Roman Catholics are supposed to undergo some voluntary
privation and penance in anticipation of Christ's sufferings.
There is no scriptural warrant for such a period; many Roman Catholics
don't give up things of consequence, and those who do feel this aids in
salvation. This concept of privation has resulted in pre-Lenten festivals:
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and carnival (carne val, farewell to meat).
In pagan Babylon, 40 days were observed weeping for Tammuz (Nimrod), that
he would rise from the dead and cause Spring to begin. With other pagan
customs, this became a part of the Church. Msgr. O'Sullivan in EXTERNALS OF
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (p. 209) says, "From about the 4th century, Lent became
a fast of forty days."
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