Is Lent REALLY 40 Days?

Believe it or not, Lent is already upon us. Coming a month earlier than last year, I feel like we just finished Christmas and we’re pulling out the ashes! But I guess it’s true what they say: the sooner you start the sooner you finish!

Which, in this case, presents a question unto itself. While we always say that Lent is forty days long, a look to the calendar might leave us a little puzzled as 40 days from Ash Wednesday only gets us to Palm Sunday. What gives? There are actually 46 days in Lent??

Well, sort of. As I actually learned last week (believe it or not, even friars know very little about our tradition at times!) the way we count to forty is both controversial and confusing. Some say one way. Others say another. And the Official Church just messes everything up with a third, inconsistent way! Gosh. I haven’t had this much trouble counting to 40 in twenty-five years!

But lest we just throw up our hands in frustration or disregard it as esoteric information, this week’s “Catholicism in Focus” attempts to get to the bottom of the issue, finding the important information in history and trying to make sense of the different approaches.

For those who are looking for something to actually do this Lent, be sure to check back every Friday for a new Lenten reflection series on discernment and discipleship in today’s world, inspired by my new book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God.

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