Lenten season begins today

Published 7:38 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

By By Kerry Whipple Bean – publisher
Some area church-goers may be showing the outward signs of the Lenten season today - wearing a cross of ashes on their foreheads or giving up favorite foods.
But the season - the weeks before Easter - is about internal spiritual revival, said the Rev. Gary Lee Baldwin, pastor of Brewton's St. Stephens Episcopal Church.
Lent, a period traditionally of 40 days, began in the early church as a time of preparation for initiates to the Christian faith and included &#8220a lot of confessing, fasting and learning about the church and Christianity,” Baldwin said.
In the Middle Ages, Lenten preparations grew to include all Christians, and the time is now observed by some Christian churches as an opportunity for spiritual revival, he said.
&#8220It's a period of self-reflection, of looking at what kinds of things may be getting in the way of our carrying out the mission of Christ,” Baldwin said.
Many Christians who observe Lent often give something up during the period, such as chocolate or soft drinks. Still others do something extra, such as special prayers or volunteer work.
St. Stephens Episcopal Church held a traditional pancake supper Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras. Baldwin said the tradition dates to the Jewish tradition of getting rid of leavened bread in the house before Passover.
Roman Catholics also take part in fasting during Lent. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, they do not eat meat and limit meals to one on those days, and on Fridays throughout Lent they abstain from meat.
St. Stephens will hold Ash Wednesday services at 6 p.m. today. St. Maurice Catholic Church will hold masses at 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. today.

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