How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day


You must’ve eaten those green clover-shaped cookies, crooned to the songs being played during the spectacular parades, or simply soaked in the spirit as a spectator during celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. But have you ever wondered about what makes this an important date on the calendar? Or why is the day associated with penitence and faith? For those of you who are searching for answers to your questions on the importance of the day and why you could go on a penitential pilgrimage, read on to find out more about the religious significance of this day. But what if you are unable to make a pilgrimage to St. Patrick’s Purgatory but still seek deliverance from your sins? A prayer request to the Holy Land could help you find solace and strengthen your belief. You do not have to walk the fine line to find the right balance between your family/ work and your pursuit of divine deliverance. A prayer request can lead you down the path of penitence without you having to worry about finding the time and the resources required to undertake any journey.

First Celebration of St. Patrick’s Day

The Roman Catholics started observing Feast Day of St. Patrick on March 17 way back in the 9th or 10th century. The day was celebrated to commemorate the death anniversary of St. Patrick in the fifth century. Surprisingly, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not held in Ireland but the USA. According to records, the first parade was organized and held in a Spanish Colony in St. Augustine, Florida, on March 17, 1601. A year earlier, the Spanish Colony’s Irish vicar, Ricardo Artur, had organized St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and a parade.

Initially, the color associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebration was blue because St. Patrick did not wear green. The ancient Irish flags featured the color blue; it was also featured as the color of the Royal Court. During the Irish Rebellion against the British in the late 18th century, the color green became synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. It received an official stamp of recognition in 1798.

St. Patrick’s Day & Lent

Typically, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated during the Lenten season but the tradition of fasting and prohibitions against the eating of meat are waived. People feast on a traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. The bacon was substituted with corned beef by Irish immigrants to the USA as affordability was a prime concern. Interestingly, there is no usage of corn in the traditional meal of cabbage and corned beef prepared on St. Patrick’s Day. Historically, the name “corned beef” refers to the large grains of salt used to cure meat; these grains were known as corn. The alcohol consumed on this day was known as Pota Phadraig or St. Patrick’s Pot. The tradition came to be known as “Drowning the Shamrock” as it involved raising a toast to St. Patrick and tossing a shamrock over the shoulder; people believed that doing so would bring them good luck.

The Significance of the Shamrock

Homes and public places are decorated with the shamrock – or three-leaf clovers – on St. Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is believed to have popularized the shamrock to represent the Holy Trinity — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. He taught the Irish that there was only One God. The shamrock emerged as the symbol of the Holy Trinity as well as the Irish and not just a mere representation of good luck. According to legend, each leaf of the clover represents faith, hope, love, and luck.

St. Patrick’s Purgatory

This is a renowned pilgrimage site located at Station Island. Although Modernists do not believe in Purgatory and have raised doubts over its doctrine, St. Patrick’s Purgatory is a much-visited place by pilgrims. It is believed that during the 5th century, Christ showed a cave on Station Island to St. Patrick. This is said to be the entrance to the Purgatory. It is believed by many to be the answer to St. Patrick’s prayers to Christ as a considerable number of Irish people were reluctant to believe the doctrine of the Church without any substantial proof. From that time onwards, people flocked to St. Patrick’s Purgatory as a pilgrimage site.

Previously, pilgrims arrived with letters of permission issued by a Bishop. They spent 15 days fasting and praying before coming to Station Island by boat. Each pilgrim would go to Confession, receive Holy Communion, and undergo several rituals. Subsequently, a pilgrim would be locked in a cave for 24 hours. The following day, the pilgrim would start praying and fasting for another 15 days, if he was able to endure the hardship and remain alive.

Since 1632, pilgrims cannot enter the cave as it has been closed and locked. But pilgrims can still visit St. Patrick’s Purgatory. They walk barefoot and spend three days in fasting, prayer, and penance.

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Coronavirus — It’s Time to Pray

Coronavirus — It’s Time to Pray

Every time we switch on the television or read the newspaper the first piece of news that catches the eye are reports about the deadly Coronavirus. Although some of us take the necessary precautions, most of us think that it’s happening in other parts of the world and hasn’t yet become a cause of concern in our city. I, too, was no exception to this notion and, like scores of other people, thought that the deadly Coronavirus would hardly affect me or any of my near and dear ones. After all, we were always careful about personal hygiene, watched what we ate, and visited our family physician regularly for health check-ups.

Winter was in its last phase and bidding adieu. The weather was changing and signaling the arrival of spring. One day, my husband came home and said that he was feeling tired and a bit uneasy. I brushed it off, thinking that it was one of those typical flu symptoms that always strikes when winter is on its way out. I did not give it much thought and gave him the regular anti-allergic medicine that the doctor usually prescribed to him in such situations.

The next morning, my husband woke up with a runny nose and sore throat; he even complained of breathlessness. As he was asthmatic, we always keep his inhaler handy, especially at night. He took his regular medication and decided to stay at home and take rest. But as the day wore on, his condition worsened and he started having frequent bouts of breathlessness. I knew something didn’t feel right and decided to visit the doctor. We got an appointment for the next day as it was already too late to schedule one for the evening. During the night, he started running a temperature and developed severe breathlessness. I decided to call an ambulance and take him to a nearby hospital.

The staff at the hospital took one look at him and admitted him to the ICU. I heard them whispering among themselves that all his symptoms seemed to be of the dreaded Coronavirus. I couldn’t believe my ears and just collapsed into a nearby chair. A nurse rushed to me and consoled me saying that it was just their suspicion. Only after they ran some tests and analyzed the results, they could be certain; it was simply speculation on their part at the moment and I should not lose hope.

The doctors kept him in a segregated ward in isolation. I was not allowed to meet him but only see him from behind thick glass doors. I had never felt so lonely and helpless in my life before. It seemed as if I was standing all alone without knowing what to do.

I called my aunt and told her what had happened over the last 48 hours. She told me that she was on her way to the hospital and I should take care of myself and not lose hope.

The doctors came and took my husband away for the mandatory tests to confirm coronavirus disease. My aunt arrived at the hospital and tried to console me. She told me to be strong and pick a place where I could send an online prayer request. My head was reeling because of the turn of events. I told my aunt that I have heard about people’s prayers getting answered but would it work for me as there wasn’t even a cure for coronavirus disease? My aunt told me to have faith in the Lord and send an online prayer request to a place where I felt was the right one for me. Together, we started browsing the Internet for places where one can send an online prayer request. My aunt suggested that if I were to send one, why not send it to a place in the Holy Land? I agreed with her and chose a place where I could send an online prayer request to light a candle in my husband’s name and say a prayer on his behalf.

The doctors conducted a preliminary test on my husband to check whether the symptoms were indeed indicative of Coronavirus. The preliminary test result came out negative. Although it offered me a glimmer of hope, the doctors wanted to conduct another test to confirm whether he had Coronavirus. In the meantime, I received a photograph of my candle request and felt a bit relieved. In a few days, all the results came back and he tested negative. The doctors confirmed that the symptoms had occurred due to a severe case of upper respiratory tract infection. His symptoms were aggravated as he was a patient of asthma. But they assured me that his infection was under control and he was responding to treatment.  In a couple of weeks, he was discharged from the hospital and we came home.

My belief in the Almighty grew stronger after I had sent an online prayer request. Sometimes, we know that He is watching over us yet we need His divine blessings to touch us and give us courage and hope. Our belief in the Lord is strengthened when we are faced with the utmost difficulties in life. My experience taught me that the Lord never abandons us but shows us His mercy and divine grace.

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Celebrate Palm Sunday in the Holy Land

Celebrate Palm Sunday in the Holy Land

If you religiously attend mass on Palm Sunday and bring home the blessed palm branches and fronds, chances are that you do have a fair idea about one of the most significant dates in the Christian calendar. But if you ever thought about sending an online prayer request to the Holy Land to seek His divine blessings or your present circumstances do not allow you to take a break from your family commitments or work, read on to learn about the places where you can send an online prayer request to fulfill your heart’s desire and strengthen your communion with the Lord. If you wish to avoid the crowd but seek the Lord’s blessings, you can send an online prayer request to these religious sites of the utmost significance. You can be a part of the celebration of Palm Sunday without being a part of the long, winding queues.

The Holy Sepulchre Entrance

Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The church situated in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem is also known as the Church of the Resurrection and the Church of the Anastasis. The church houses the last four holy sites where Christ was crucified at the Calvary or Golgotha; the sites are known as the Stations of the Cross and situated along the Via Dolorosa. The church was rediscovered in the 4th century by the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, St. Helena. She found Christ’s tomb and the True Cross. Two churches were constructed at the site; one was above the tomb while the other was built around the hill of Golgotha. In the 11th century and the early 1800s, major work was undertaken to rebuild the site. The cavernous structure contains elements of the medieval, Byzantine, and Crusader forms of architecture. Visitors can see the many shrines, altars, and outstanding pieces of artwork. One can visit the tombs dating back to the first century, the Prison of Christ, the Chapel of the Finding of the Cross, the Rock of Calvary, the Stone of the Unction, and the Chapel of Agony of the Virgin where Christ’s body was taken down from the Cross.

Send your prayer to the Holy Sepulchre

The Garden Tomb

Garden Tomb

This site situated near the Damascus Gate outside the walled city of Jerusalem holds the utmost significance as it is widely believed to be the place for Christ’s burial and Resurrection. Although speculation is rife about the precise date of the tomb’s discovery, popular view suggests that it was found in 1867. The place was identified as the site of Christ’s burial as it contained a burial site dating back to the first century. There is a craggy escarpment nearby resembling a skull; it is believed that Christ was crucified here. It is popularly known as the Hill of the Skull or Golgotha.

Send your prayer to the Garden Tomb

Church of All Nations

This church, also known as the Basilica of Agony, faces the walls of the Old City and stands atop the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It is the site where Christ prayed the night before his Crucifixion. The church stands on the remnants of a basilica built in the 4th century and a Crusader chapel constructed in the 12th century. Twelve different nations contributed to the construction of the neo-classical church; hence it earned the name of the Church of All Nations. The astounding mosaic façade supported by Corinthian columns above the main entrance depicts Christ as a conduit between the Lord and mankind. The walls of the church are adorned with mosaics depicting Biblical scenes that had taken place at the Garden of Gethsemane. Beneath the altar is the Rock of Agony where Christ sat down and prayed; it is encircled by a crown of thorns made of wrought iron.

Send your prayer to Church of All Nations​

Abbey of the Dormition

The Dormition Abbey is located on Mount Zion outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Zion Gate. In 1898, a piece of land was given to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II to commemorate his visit to Jerusalem by the Ottoman ruler. The German-Catholic Church is a magnificent neo-Romanesque structure that incorporates the architectural style of the ancient cathedrals of Europe; the red and white bricks are reminiscent of the Mameluke architecture. The abbey was dedicated in 1910. The site holds significance as it is the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary fell into an eternal slumber. Hence the term Dormition denoting sleep is associated with the place. The mosaics express the link between the world and divinity, the four evangelists and the Biblical prophets.

Send your prayer to Abbey of the Dormition

St. Peters Church

St. Peter’s Church

This Franciscan church is a distinctive building with its elegant brick façade and lofty bell tower in Old Jaffa. The 13th-century citadel bears elements of the New Spanish baroque architecture and its interiors depict various episodes of St. Peter’s life, including the transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor and the washing of his feet at the Last Supper. Although a majority of the churches face East, the St. Peter’s Church faces towards the sea in the West as it is where the saint had seen his first vision to spread the word of the Lord and evangelize the Gentiles. The carved pulpit resembles the shape of a tree.

Send your prayer to St. Peter’s Church

What Is Palm Sunday About?

What Is Palm Sunday About?

You must have seen Christian churches decorated with palm branches and parishioners in rapt attention crafting crosses made of palm branches in their pews. You may have taken part in the processions taken out on Palm Sunday or been handed palm fronds in your parish. But have you ever thought about what makes this day significant in the Christian calendar?

Or what is the history of Palm Sunday? If you’re looking to seek answers to these questions as well as gain a clearer perception of the rituals involved and their significance, read on to learn more about this day. But if you are unable to visit a church and be a part of the congregation, an online prayer request to the Holy land can blur geographical boundaries and let you seek divine blessings. You can send a prayer request for yourself, your family members and friends and seek His divine grace.

What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday marks one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar. It falls on the Sunday just before Easter – the last Sunday before the Lenten season ends. It marks the first day or beginning of the Holy Week. The day is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of Christ in the holy city of Jerusalem before his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. Palm Sunday depicts how the people of Jerusalem welcomed Christ into their city and laid out palm leaves on his path as he passed by. Nowadays, processions are taken out to celebrate Palm Sunday where people carry willow, palm, or olive branches. Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday, Flower Sunday, Willow Sunday, and Branch Sunday.   

The History of Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday denotes Christ’s entry into the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey before his crucifixion five days later. The crowds waved palm branches and leaves and shouted in jubilation. They referred to Christ as their “Messiah” or Savior. Palm Sunday refers to the fulfillment of a prophecy made in the Old Testament by Prophet Zachariah, who had predicted the event. The Prophet had also said that the people would recognize Christ as their Messiah as he rode into Jerusalem. 

During that era, it was customary that a king would come riding into the city on a white horse signifying victory in a battle but he would ride a donkey during peaceful times. Christ came riding on a donkey to send a message that he had come not to judge the people but to demonstrate God’s grace. He came unarmed along with his disciples to demonstrate peace and the Kingdom of God.

What do the Palms Signify?

Palms are considered to be a representation of immortality. In ancient Egypt, there was a tradition where people carried the palm leaves and branches to funeral processions. The Egyptians believed that the palm was a representation of eternal life. They also considered palm branches to be a symbol of one’s spiritual triumph over death. Thus palms have been associated as a sign of paying homage. The people often threw palms as a mark of respect to people who belonged to the nobility as well as those who commanded a higher position in society. In Christianity, palm branches have been considered as a symbol of peace, joy, and victory over the flesh. 

If one reads the Gospels, it speaks of how the crowds of Jerusalem threw palm leaves at Christ’s feet as a mark of honor and respect as foretold in the Old Testament. The palm leaves were used as a symbol of victory and peace.

Importance of Palm Sunday

The Palm Sunday Scripture documents Christ’s victorious entry into the city of Jerusalem and marks the final week of his earthly ministry. Christians believe that the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ saved them from the punishment that they should have received. Thus, Palm Sunday has immense significance for all Christians as it serves as a reminder of how Christ had died for their sins.

Celebration of Palm Sunday

Traditionally, parishioners walk in processions to church carrying palm leaves in their hands. Holy water is used to bless the palm leaves. The branches are symbolic and serve as a reminder to people of Christ’s triumph over death. Many congregation members hand out small crosses made out of palm leaves and branches. A lot of worshippers twist the branches of the palms into crosses as well as other religious symbols. If palms are unavailable, one can use branches of willows, olives, and other trees. Many people take the palm leaves home and place it before a picture or statue of Christ; it is preserved till Christmas Eve and handed back to the church so that it can be used in a bonfire, but a majority of Roman Catholic churches collect the palm leaves and branches and burn them into ashes to be used for Ash Wednesday the following year.

Pray For Safety and Life: Christians In Solidarity Against Coronavirus

Pray For Safety and Life: Christians In Solidarity Against Coronavirus

Prayer Against Coronavirus

The world is in the grip of fear like never before.

We’re all battling the COVID-19: those who are infected those who are in quarantine and in turn the vulnerable groups, such as their families and the people treating the patients; those worried about the spread of the virus and everyone else who is susceptible to catching the infection.

You deserve hope, you deserve blessings.

The Salvation Garden is the carrier of your prayer from your heart to the Holy Land of Christianity.

We live in a strange world, don’t we? There is so much risk and uncertainty all around us that it’s easy to lose a sense of oneness with the Creator.

The deadly COVID-19 virus has affected thousands of people on the planet already. The worst affected are people who’ve had to fight a battle for their lives and lost it. We don’t underestimate the difficulty for caregivers either. The nature of the disease makes it painful for families to see their loved ones being isolated from the world for treatment. The doctors and medical staff treating those affected with the virus are doing God’s work in saving lives, often at the risk of their own. It is time to come together to pray to God and beseech Him to stop the spread of this deadly disease, save the affected and protect the vulnerable.

Seek The Safe Refuge of Prayer

We implore our brothers and sisters from across the world to let their faith in Jesus Christ become stronger in these testing times.

When we pray together, we call out powers higher than our own.

When we pray together, we bring together benevolent energies from all parts of the world together.

When we pray together, we make a silent vow of togetherness and solidarity.

The Salvation Garden implores Christians across the world to believe in the power of prayer.

Jerusalem Has The Answers

The world is in the center of a storm in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. People have lost their lives.

Families have lost their loved ones.

Caregivers are battling with depression.

Everyone is thinking twice before taking a step out of their houses. Travel plans have been cancelled. Lives are disrupted like we never thought.

Isn’t it only appropriate that when we find ourselves at the center of misery, we look towards the core of our faith, the center of our beliefs, the center of the world? The holy churches of Jerusalem are the epicenters of positivity, the core of Jesus Christ’s blessings.

The Salvation Garden Brings Your Prayers to the Holy Churches

When you need God to bless you with courage, when you need the limitless love and grace of the Lord, when you need answers – we will take your prayer from your heart to the feet of the Giver of Life.

You can submit your prayer online, and our team will print it physically, and then take it to the holiest churches in the land of Gospel.

We will share photographs of your prayer being hand-delivered by our team in the churches of your choice. We believe it’s our responsibility to help fellow Christians feel the miracle of prayer in one of the holiest churches of Jerusalem. Place your trust in Jesus and send your prayer request.Our online prayer request service is there to help you feel closer to God, and perhaps a little less alone or helpless.

The distance between hope and despair is that of faith. Choose to traverse the distance, choose The Salvation Garden as the link between your prayer and the Holy Land of Jesus.

Pray For Safety and Life: Christians In Solidarity Against Coronavirus

Ash Wednesday-About what and why?

Ash Wednesday-About what and why?

At some point in the past, you might have shared images or wallpapers to mark and spread the importance of Ash Wednesday. It is one of the most significant and popular holy days in the liturgical calendar. But if you’ve ever wondered about the origins, historical significance, and other trivia around this special day of fasting, prayer, and abstinence, read on to know more about how it all began. 

Origins of Lent

Ash Wednesday is observed to mark the onset of the season of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and self-restraint leading up to Easter Sunday. The day is also known as the “Day of Ashes” because the devout have their foreheads marked with ash drawn in the form of the Cross. The name Day of Ashes has been derived from “Dies Cinerum” found in the Roman Missal; although the exact roots of the day cannot be found, it can be traced back to the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. It is widely believed that its observance was followed by the Roman Catholics starting in the 6th century; marking the forehead with ashes on Ash Wednesday is likely to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great. During the Council of Nicea, Catholics started the tradition of observing Lent in about 325 CE. Although Ash Wednesday is probably most closely associated with Catholics, its significance is recognized by many Christian denominations and sects, including some Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Anglicans, Lutherans, and the Western Orthodox Churches.

The Evolution of Lenten Lore

According to the Old Testament, ashes were used both as a sign of mortality and humility. In other words, it is seen as a sign of sorrow as well as a symbol of repentance for sins. The Old Testament’s biblical custom also supports the Christian connotation for ashes in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday. In the 10th century, members and followers of the Anglo-Saxon church received ashes on their forehead as a sign of sorrow for their sins and a reminder of mortality. In 1901, the custom was accepted universally throughout the Western church at the Synod of Benevento.

Initially, the ashes were used to signify penance as a matter of one’s private devotion. Subsequently, it gained prominence as a part of the official ritual for repentance in public. The ashes became a motive for fellow Christians to embrace those who had sinned, look at them with sympathy, and pray for their return to the fold. This ritual evolved with the passage of time and the ashes emerged into its present custom of marking the start of the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday. It is also associated with the adoption of the way of “Righteousness” as explained in the Book of Revelation.

Duration of Lent — Then & Now

The roots of the word Lent are embedded in the Middle English word “Lente”; it denotes “springtime”. The season of Lent is observed for a duration of 40 weekdays beginning from Ash Wednesday. It ends on Good Thursday and is observed as a period of fasting and repentance by the Roman Catholics, Eastern churches, and some Protestant churches as well. Sundays are not excluded from the 40-day count of the season. Hence, technically, the season of Lent lasts for 46 days. Initially, the duration of Lent was only for 36 days; subsequently, it was extended to the present duration of 40 days.

Why 40 Days?

An interesting question may come to mind as to why the duration for observing the season of Lent lasts for 40 days. The reason behind it is that the number 40 holds significance for Christians. Christ spent that many days and nights in the desert, during which he was tempted several times to sin against God. Noah witnessed 40 days of rain until the highest mountain was covered in water. The time between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was 40 days.

Fasting During Lent

Other than staying away from feasting and merriment, fasting is one of the fundamental principles of Lent. According to the Catholic tradition, believers and followers should not consume meat during Lent. However, nowadays, this rule has been simplified and prohibits followers from eating meat only on Fridays. Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 should fast every Wednesday after Ash Wednesday, although one can eat a single regular-sized meal along with two small meals. Elderly people, small children and those who are sick or suffering from an ailment are exempt from keeping a fast.

How Do You Calculate the Date?

The date on which Easter is celebrated each year depends on the full moon of Passover or Paschal. It has been observed that Easter occurs on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. One can use mathematical formulas to calculate when Easter will fall on any given year. Once the date for Easter is known, one can easily calculate the date when Lent begins. One simply needs to count 46 days (including Sundays) or 40 days (excluding Sundays) from Easter to determine the date of Ash Wednesday.

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Interesting Facts About Ash Wednesday

Interesting Facts About Ash Wednesday

You’ve possibly attended mass on Ash Wednesday or seen people with ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads. You even abstain from merry-making and practice self-denial of activities you enjoy during the Lenten season. But have you ever wondered about the various aspects associated with one of the most significant dates of the liturgical calendar? If you wish to know more and learn about the interesting yet little-known facts about Ash Wednesday, read on to discover interesting nuggets about this widely observed day of prayer and fasting. 

What Do the Ashes Signify and How Are They Obtained?

Although Ash Wednesday is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation, devout Catholics observe the day as a sign of an expression of their faith in Christ. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning or first day of the 40 days of the Lenten season, a six-week period dedicated to fasting, praying and giving donations in preparation for Easter. Believers wear the ashes on their foreheads drawn in the form of a cross, as a sign of humility. The ashes remind followers of the sins of humanity and the reason Christ died on the cross. Ashes are distributed to remind believers of their mortality and ask them to repent and believe in the Lord. During the days of the early Church, Ash Wednesday was marked as the day on which people who had sinned and also those who wished to be readmitted to the folds of the Church would start their atonement.

Traditionally, the ashes are derived from burning palm leaves that were distributed during the previous Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday is observed to celebrate Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, where believers in Christ the Messiah waved branches of palm trees to commemorate his arrival. Typically, the ashes are mixed with olive oil or Holy Water. The Lenten service and ashes lay emphasis on and uphold the themes of mortality, sin, and God’s ultimate sacrifice of His own Son for the sins of the world.

According to the United Methodist Book of Worship, items burned to obtain the ashes include small cards or pieces of paper with sins or hurtful or unjust characteristics written on them. The cards are taken to the altar and burned along with the palm branches from the year before.

What Can You Not Eat?

According to the Catholic tradition, those who observe Ash Wednesday should abstain from consuming meat during the Lent season. Nowadays, this rule has been relaxed and people stay away from eating meat only on Fridays. People also give up on various pleasurable activities like watching television, and stay away from several items of food and drinking alcohol. Interestingly, a study conducted in 2014 revealed that 72% of people knew about the significance of Lent, and around 88% of those observing Lent had given up some item of food for the 40 days marking the Lenten season. Chocolate emerged as the number one item that people had willingly given up during this period.

The Official Color of Lent

The color violet represents mourning for Christ dying on the Cross and, at the same time, it is also associated with celebrating his Resurrection. Thus, violet is associated with both Christ’s pain and suffering on the Cross, as well as royalty. It is the official or symbolic color of Lent. Violet-colored fabric is used to veil or cover statues, altars, and myriad religious paraphernalia.

When Does the Season of Lent Come to an End?

The season of Lent does not end on Easter; it actually ends on Good Thursday, the day Christ had The Last Supper. Good Friday marks the day Christ died on the Cross, while Easter Sunday commemorates his Rising from the grave – The Resurrection.

Exclusion of Sundays

In the Christian calendar, the duration of the season of Lent is 40 days. The count does not include Sundays. Ash Wednesday falls on a different date every year as it depends on the date on which Easter Sunday is celebrated that year.

What is Laetare Sunday?

Laetare Sunday is observed by some churches as a special date. It falls in the middle of the liturgical season, on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The term Laetare derives its name from “Rejoice, O Jerusalem” or “Laetare Jerusalem”. It is a lighter form of worship that has a cheerful and festive tone as compared to the somber mood associated with other Sundays that fall during the Lenten season. It can also be seen as a preparation for Easter Sunday.

Why do Churches Refrain from Singing Alleluia during Lent?

During the season of Lent, it is customary for churches observing Lent to refrain from singing hymns featuring the Hebrew phrase “Alleluia” or “Praise the Lord”. According to an Evangelical Lutheran Church in the USA, the avoidance of the word “Alleluia” in songs or speeches dates back to the fifth century; the word is avoided during the 40 days of Lent as the season is associated with penance.

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New Catholic regulations on cremation

Even though the Catholic Church is known for being in favor of earth burial, it has recently declared a new stance in regard to cremation. In 2016, The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the Church is not against cremation if certain regulations are followed. The document was approved by Pope Francis. For example, there are some prohibitions – it is not allowed to keep the ashes of a loved one at home or turn them into jewelry. Additionally, one should not scatter the ashes, but bury them in one place instead. It is encouraged to bury the remains of a loved one in sacred places or cemeteries as this would be in accordance with the Christian tradition. As Christians believe in the resurrection, burial is an important aspect of the religion. A single place of burial (contrary to scattering the ashes) allows people to visit their deceased family members and friends and pray for them.

A little bit of history of cremation

– In the ancient world: It was discovered that cremation dates back to ancient times, more accurately, 3000 B.C. The ritual was practiced mainly in the territory of the Near East and Europe.

“…But when the flame of Hephaestus had made an end of thee, in the morning we gathered thy white bones, Achilles, and laid them in unmixed wine and unguents. Thy mother had given a two-handled, golden urn, and [75] said that it was the gift of Dionysus, and the handiwork of famed Hephaestus.” (Homer Od. 24.70-24.80)

The popularity of cremation was evident in Ancient Greece as it was the main way of burial. In 800 B.C. it was extremely popular as cremating bodies prevented a lot of diseases from spreading. Likewise, ancient Romans had similar practices.

– In the turn of the millennium: Even though cremation was a convenient way of burying, by 400 A.D. burying people in earth took over. From then, it was the usual way of burial, and cremation was almost forgotten.

 – In the modern ERA: However, about 150 years ago, an Italian professor Brunetti invented a cremation chamber, in which the process could be done in a convenient manner, and the popularity of cremation started to rise. Since then, more and more cremation chambers were built in the USA, starting from the one in Pennsylvania established in 1876. The Cremation Association of North America was finally established in 1975. Today, about half of deaths in the USA result in cremation, with 48.6% in 2015.

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