Friday, February 22, 2013


Today's Christian congregations might be urged to prepare for Easter by simplifying their lives, giving up FaceBook, Starbucks, a favorite food, television program, movies or beer. Early settlers in Globeville didn't have many luxuries to give up but regarded Lent as an opportunity for spiritual growth with greater prayer, repentance and charity. Lent was also a way to express their faith, which had been suppressed in the Old Country, and to preserve the food, traditions and culture they had left behind. 
On the day before Ash Wednesday, or Fastenacht, a German-Russian cook would serve her family schlitzkuchla, a deep-fried pastry. While the German-Russians didn't observe a strict fast, many families served meatless meals, such as Kaseknepfla,(cheese buttons) during the season. Lent was a time of frequent church attendance, with special services every Wednesday evening, and no dancing, card playing, amusements or weddings. 
Lent began for Catholics from St. Joseph's Polish and Holy Rosary Churches on Ash Wednesday with the application of ashes on the forehead, and a reminder that "dust you are and to dust you shall return". Lenten practices included abstaining from meat on Fridays and observing a fast that required the evening meal to be no larger than the combination of breakfast and lunch, and avoiding eating between meals. (It was understood that the faithful would cut back on beer and wine during the solemn season). Fridays were for the devotion known as the Stations of the Cross, Via Crucis, or Via Dolorosa, recalling the route Jesus took on his way to Golgotha, with incense, candles and Latin hymns like Stabat Mater, Mary is Standing.
Because Russian and Serbian Orthodox observed the Julian calendar, "Great Lent" usually began later than that of Roman Catholics with fasting that included not only abstaining from meat, but also certain kinds of fish and dairy. Inside the church, the royal gates to the altar remained closed to signify man's separation from God through sin, and the priest donned vestments in the somber color of purple. The Vesper service which began the lenten season was called Vespers of Forgiveness where the faithful asked forgiveness and forgave each other.
Many of the descendants of Globeville's earlier residents return to the neighborhood parishes to continue the lenten practices they practiced as children, and use the dark, cold days of Lent to prepare for the joyful resurrection of Easter. 

One of the stained-glass windows at Holy Rosary Church

German Russian Lent
St Joseph's Polish Catholic Church 
Holy Rosary Church
Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral

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