Wichita Falls, Texas
Lent is defined as ". . . the period of forty weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter, observed in Christian churches by fasting and penitence to commemorate Jesus' fasting in the wilderness" (Webster's New World Dictionary, pg. 838).
Jesus did not authorize any observance known as Lent. One can look the Bible through and not find one word about any such special days. Man ordains religious days! Lent, supposedly, is a time of penitence performed by contrite persons to lead them to more holy lives. One may be contrite at any time be desires!
Lent was ordained for an improper purpose and upon an improper concept. In the "Modern Presentation of the Catholic Faith," Lent is discussed. "Through this time of prayer, fasting, and voluntary self-discipline, we make tip for our sins which caused Christ's sufferings" (Christ Among Us, A. J. Wilhelm, C.S.P., pg. 252).
Abstinence does not make up for one's sins. Ascetics perceived themselves righteous by virtue of their abstinences. One is righteous by the blood of Christ through faith! One cannot nullify unrighteousness by moral credits. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse one from transgression.
One may question the abstinences! Many people give up liquor for forty days. A Christian will not use such. Some quit cursing for forty days. A Christian will not curse at all.
The concept is, "Quit some wrong for forty days to manifest penitence!" Penitence causes one to cease the wrong and to abhor its continued practice (Ps. 119:104; cf. definition of repent by Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 405).
Lent has become a farce among the practitioners! "Cologne, Germany (AP)-Little old ladies in purple fright wigs danced with gay grenadiers, pretty drum majorettes kissed straw men, and beer flowed in rivers yesterday. Millions of Germans forgot their traditional reserve in the noisy, colorful climax to the Rhineland's pre-Lenten carnival . . . The parades highlighted five days of nonstop balls, street dancing, singing and drinking preceding Lent" (Kansas City Times, February 15, 1972, pg. 2A). If these people were truly penitent, they would not attempt to live-it-up on the last few days prior to their God-mourning!
Jesus taught disciples to obey the gospel for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). When Christians have sinned, the Lord teaches them to confess this sin to God in prayer, repent of the wrong, and He will forgive them (1 Jn. 1:7-9; Acts 8:22).
When penitence leads one to pray to the Father, do not make a big show! Go to your closet and pray to your Father in secret. He will hear, and He will forgive!
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 20, p. 2