Lent is a Christian season that is a period of prayer, preparation, fasting and Alms-giving which leads us to Holy Week and Easter. It recalls the 40 day fast in the desert of our Lord Jesus Christ. Catholic Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts through to the evening Masses of Holy Thursday, although Lenten penance continues until Holy Saturday. The purpose of the Lenten season is for Christians a time of fasting, self-denial, prayer, spiritual growth and simplicity.
The word Lent comes from the Teutonic (German) word meaning `springtime,` and it can be viewed as a Christian time of spiritual deep-cleaning. It is a season when we as Christians take a spiritual inventory of our lives and of our faith and then the cleansing of those things which only serve to hinder us in our personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and also our service to him. This being the case, it is fitting and significant that we begin the Lenten season with the symbol of repentance: that of placing ashes mixed with oil on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday.
We must remember however, that our disciplines throughout Lent are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: Our body, our soul and our Spirit and to help us to become more like our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Athansius, describes this as `becoming by grace what God is by nature. The idea of fasting during Lent is so that we learn to control particular parts of our lives which require self-discipline and this helps us to be able to sustain this after the Lenten season is ended.
Lent is a very important season and I personally see it as walking the journey together with Christ as part of Christ. I feel it is a blessing to walk with our dear Lord, and to suffer in some ways no matter how small just as our dear Lord suffered for the benefit of each and every single one of us.
I pray that this Lenten season may bring each of us to that closer relationship with our Lord for which all of us as true Christians yearn.