LENTEN REFLECTION – The Second Week of Lent – Tuesday 14 MARCH
Why Forty Days – St Pope Gregory the Great – Doctor of the Church (540-604)
He, the Author of all things, for forty days tasted no food. Let us likewise, as far as we are able, afflict our flesh by abstinence during the season of Lent. A fast of forty days is observed, since the perfection of the Decalogue is completed by the four books of the Holy Gospel; ten multiplied by four being forty.
Or, again, because this mortal body is made up from four elements and because of its pleasures we are bound by the commandments of the Lord, made known in the Decalogue, it is therefore, fitting, that we who through the desires of the flesh despise the commands of God should chastise this same flesh four times ten times.
Or, as by the Law men had to offer up tithes of their possessions, so ought we strive to offer tithes of our days. For from the first Sunday of Lent, until the joys of the Paschal feast, there are six weeks – which are two and forty days, from which, since the six days of Sunday are subtracted from the fast, there remains but thirty six days. Since the year continues for three hundred and sixty five days, we do penance for thirty six days, as though offering to God a tenth of our year.