Sunday, February 3, 2008

What Is Lent?

Lent is a penitential season lasting 40 days. Lent enables the us to prepare for the celebration of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.

The holy season that is connected to Lent is the Paschal Mystery.

You might notice that this is also the time that Catechumens prepare for Christian initiation. Current Church members prepare for Easter by actively remembering their Baptism. Lent is a special time for works of penance. You will often hear, “What are you giving up for Lent?” The most popular forms of penance seem to be extra prayer and scripture reading/reflection, fasting and almsgiving. Let us diligently remind ourselves of WHY we do these works of penance. . . .
Even in the early Church, Lent was the season for prayerful and penitential preparation for the feast of Easter.

Here is a great bit of etymology: Jesus' victory is our renewal, our “spring” — which is the meaning of the Anglo-Saxon word, lenten or Lent. In this penitential season we have the opportunity to seek spiritual renewal. We have this wonderful a 40-day retreat with Our Lord called LENT.

Ash Wednesday is this week. It is one of my favorite days of the year. It is the clear reminder to “Repent and believe the gospel” (Mk 1:15). For the next forty days, we, the faithful, willingly submit to fasting and self-denial in imitation of Jesus as he went through his forty-days in the desert. He not only fasted but battled Satan's triple temptations while in the desert.

His battle was external, for Jesus could not sin. Our battle is more interior, but we are armed with the knowledge of Christ’s Easter victory over sin and death. With works of penance we become acutely aware of the battles the world, the flesh and the devil. This is a time when the soul often experiences great growth.

I love how Sister Mary Martha says it, “Lent is our opportunity to walk a mile in Jesus feet'. Not Jesus' everyday feet. His feet on the way to the cross. We are trying to identify with Jesus' suffering.”

Let us, as St. Francis of Assisi said, “follow in the footsteps of the poor and crucified Christ.”

Sources: Original Text (JGM & MG) by Jennifer Gregory Miller and Margaret Gregory

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