The purpose of Lent is to remind ourselves of the value of repentance. Lent is an echo of the practice in the Old Testament of fasting and repenting in sackcloth and ashes (Esther 4:1-3; Jeremiah 6:26; Daniel 9:3). Lent may have changed in the way it looks today but the meaning remains the same.
How long is it?
40 days before Easter – its all calculated beforehand since Easter moves each year in accordance with the lunar calendar. The period covers 46 days – Sundays are excluded (the Lord’s day takes primacy over the Lenten fast)
Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days before the start of his ministry.
What does the word LENT mean?
The English word “Lent” derives from the Germanic root for “Spring” From that we get the Old English “lencten” and the Anglo-Saxon name for March, “lenct”
What is it for and what do I need to do?
It marks a period of preparation for Easter and its main purpose is repentance. Getting right with God. At the very least you need to add God’s word to your day – a paragraph, a chapter, even a sentence to begin with. Lenten readings at Mass cover the books of Genesis, Peter, Mark, Romans, Exodus, Corinthians, John, Chronicles, Ephesians, Jeremiah, Hebrews, Philippines – so start with one of those. Let the Holy Spirit be your strength and guide during this time. How do I do that? Prayer!
Simple themes to concentrate on this Lent – Jesus’ gifts to us – his birth, his life, his passion, his death, his resurrection and his promise to return.
What Lent is not
A time of boastful self-sacrifice or a way to attain God’s favour. The value of repentance cannot be underestimated for without it we are lost.
You’ll know when you realise that your Easter may have been reduced to a Thursday to Sunday blur that you need this time of reflection.
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