Lenten Retreat

From Ashes to Glory : This module comprises of 4 parts or 4 sessions and will focus on the significant days observed during the Lenten Season, which commences from Ash Wednesday (Ashes) and ends with the greatest Christian feast of faith, Easter (Glory)

Session 1 – From the Ashes (Season of Lent)

Session 2 – The Beauty in the Ashes (Maundy Thursday)

Session 3 – Rising above the Ashes (Good Friday)

Session 4 – From Ashes to Glory (Easter Sunday)

Ash Wednesday – The Beginning

On Ash Wednesday, we accept a mark of ashes on our forehead, a mark that will distinguish us publically as sinners. The mark of ashes is a sign to the world that we have received something extraordinary and undeserved from the Lord Jesus.

What have we received?  A word of forgiveness that is creative, living and effective, which if accepted, gives us and the world, what we need most; the gift of a new start and the unexpected grace of another chance.

Lent – a wilderness journey

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and is derived by counting back 40 days {not including Sundays} from Easter day. Lent is a forty-day period of fast and abstinence before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday when we celebrate Easter. Sundays are not counted as part of these forty days, since Sundays commemorate the Resurrection of the Lord.

Meaning

Lent comes from a German word for “springtime.”

It means the spring season. The Latin term “Quadragesima” and the Spanish term “Cuaresma” literally means “forty-day period”

This period is symbolic of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert, a detail mentioned in all the synoptic gospels. The 40 days of Lent recall the 40 days of Jesus’ being tempted in the wilderness (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13). But when we look at the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ temptations, always read on the first Sunday of Lent, we see that they in turn direct us further. Jesus’ temptations recall the 40 years of Israel’s temptation in the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land.

The period of Lent is a reminder of the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before taking up the mission he received from his Father at his baptism. “By the solemn forty days of Lent, the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” (CCC 540)

Number study 40

The Number 40 (Related to Time). The number 40 is a very familiar one in the Bible.

  • When God destroyed the earth with water, He caused it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights (Gen 7:12)
  • Moses spent forty years in Midian being prepared to lead Israel from Egypt to Canaan (Acts 7:30)
  • Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights when he received the Law (Ex 24:18).
  • After Israel’s golden calf sin, Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and nights (Deut 9:18, 25).
  • The Law specified a maximum of 40 lashes that a man could receive for a crime (Deut 25:3).
  • It took the Israelite spies 40 days to spy out the Land of Canaan (Num 13:25).
  • The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land (Deut 8:2-5).
  • The nation of Israel served the Philistines for 40 years before Samson’s deliverance (Jud 13:1).
  • Goliath taunted Saul’s army for 40 days before David arrived to slay him (1 Sam 17:16).
  • After Elijah fled from Jezebel, he traveled 40 days and 40 nights to Mt. Horeb (1 Kg 19:8).
  • Jonah’s message to the Ninevites was that God was giving them just 40 days to repent (Jon 3:4).
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness before His encounter with Satan (Mt 4:1-11).
  • Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance lasted for 40 days; and then came His ascension (Acts 1:3, 9).
  • The period from the crucifixion of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem totaled 40 years.

Symbolic meaning of the number 40

Numbers in the Bible are often not meant to be taken literally, but serve a symbolic function. What would be the symbolic meaning of the number 40?

  • It represents a long period of time.
  • This long time has a content and purpose. It is a time of need, of struggle, of testing.
  • Forty denotes a period of preparation for some special action of the Lord; it is a time of grace.
  • After the flood in Genesis, a new creation begins.
  • After Moses converses with God, the covenant is renewed.
  • After Israel’s wandering in the wilderness, they will enter into the Promised Land.
  • After Elijah’s journey, God strengthens him to resume his prophetic ministry.
  • After Jesus’ temptation, he begins his public ministry
  • At the end of the season of Lent, we celebrate Holy Week and the great feast of Easter.

After the Ascension, we enter the age of the Church.

Let us all rise together from the ashes to experience the beauty of Easter. Alleluia!

Kindly keep me in your prayers.

In Christ,

Steven Pais