We are more than half way through Lent, the Church season during which Christians are encouraged to prepare through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial for the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxury as a form of penitence. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant churches bare their altars of candles, flowers, and other devotional offerings, while Crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious paraphernalia are often veiled in violet fabrics in observance of this event. In certain pious Catholic countries, grand processions and cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary.
According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry, where He endured temptation by Satan. Thus, Lent is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. In many of the Christian churches, Lent is regarded as being forty days long, but the Sundays between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday are not typically regarded as being part of Lent; thus, the date of Shrove Tuesday will typically be 47 days before Easter. Christians are permitted to recognize Lent and celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord on Easter as they choose. These religious rights are a salient and integral part of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.
The United States of America was founded on Christian Judeo principles. That does not mean that our citizens must be either Christians or Jews. The First Amendment to the Constitution states clearly that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, on prohibiting the free exercise thereof…..” We are thereby guaranteed the freedom of religion not the freedom from religion. Each citizen shall be afforded the right to worship – or not – as he or she believes. I may not agree with how you choose to worship but I shall not have the right to interfere, obstruct, or prohibit how you worship. Also, you have no right to interfere, obstruct, or prohibit how I worship. Many within this great country of ours seem to have forgotten or never perceived this fact.
I wish each of you a very Happy Easter or Happy Hanukkah or not.