In their Guide to Lent, the National Catholic Register notes that 40 is no ordinary number. Biblically, the number has always had a special significance regarding preparation and denotes a period of time that leads to something extraordinary.
- Noah endured the rains for 40 days during the Flood.
- Moses stayed on Mount Sinai and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights as he prepared to receive the 10 Commandments.
- The Jews wandered for 40 days in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land.
- The prophet Elijah fasted for 40 days on Mount Horeb.
- Most importantly, Jesus himself fasted for 40 days before beginning his public ministry.
- “By the solemn 40 days of Lent, the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” (CCC, 540)
This Lent, the number 40 also confronts each of us. How will we spend our 40 days?