According to Pope Saint Leo the Great, the forty days of fasting prior to Easter is of Apostolic origin. These forty days of Lent are a season of penance and preparation for the faithful as we prepare for the joyful commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ at Easter.
Lent is often seen as the time for ‘asceticism’ and asceticism originally referred to athletic rigour and competition. As you know, most professional sports also have a “pre-season” dedicated to preparing for the real season. Coaches know that their athletes need a few unofficial games to get back in the swing of things. It’s also a time for coaches to re-evaluate their strategies for the “real season.”
Centuries ago, the Greek (Orthodox) Churches began to anticipate the Great Lent by a lighter penitential pre-season prior to Lent. Pope Gregory the Great corresponded to this tradition and added three additional weeks of preparation prior to Ash Wednesday. These Sundays were called Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays – Latin for “seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth.”See More