Today February 22, millions of Filipino Catholics gather in churches to mark Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. This is a 40-day season of prayers, reflection, and other religious practices preceding Easter.
According to the New World Encyclopedia, the word Lent comes from Old English “lencten” which means spring. It is also notable that during this time, the days are growing longer in the Northern Hemisphere as it heads toward summer. Many Christian denominations mark Lent with different religious practices, such as prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and abstinence in sober preparation for Easter.
Coinciding with spring, it has also been suggested that some of the practices during the Lenten season can be attributed to agricultural practices. The act of fasting during Lent can be linked to the period of subsistence in farming during springtime. During this time, the food stored during autumn is already running out, and eggs and milk are also scarce, hence the practical need to reduce consumption.
While the food supply is not as scarce anymore today, the season of Lent can still be a period to reflect on the importance of food and its origin, agriculture. In a conference, Archbishop Bernard Hebda stated that farming itself is a vocation and cooperation with the Creator to sustain life on earth. Just as Easter would not have its essence without the sacrifices preceding it, it is also a moral responsibility to support local agriculture, especially this Lent, according to a statement presented by Msgr. Kevin W. Irwin of The Catholic University of America during the International Congress on Liturgy.