So What is Lent and What Does it Mean?
What is Lent, and what does it mean?
Have you ever wondered what people mean when they say they are giving up something for Lent? How much do you understand about Lent and how it relates to Easter?
Lent is the 40 days (not including Sundays) beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding on the Saturdaybefore Easter. It is a time for personal reflection, allowing people to prepare their hearts and minds for the passion of Jesus on Good Friday and His glorious resurrection at Easter.
What Are the Key Days During Lent?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It is called Ash Wednesday because people receive the ashes from the palms from the previous Palm Sunday. The ashes symbolise the people’s grief for their wrongdoings and the resulting separation from God. It signifies their desire to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
Holy Thursday is the day before Good Friday and commemorates the night before Jesus died. It is a time to reflect on the Passover meal Jesus shared with His closest friends and the institution of the Eucharist.
Good Friday is the day Christians remember the death of Jesus. The “Good” reflects Jesus’ sacrifice of his life for us so that we might be reconciled with God.
Easter Sunday is the joyful celebration of Jesus’ resurrection and the most important feast day of the Church. It is a day of great joy and our hope for eternal life.
What Happens During Lent?
There are three things to focus on during Lent: Prayer, self-sacrifice and giving.
- During Lent, prayer centres on our need to ask for God’s forgiveness. It is about turning away from sin to receive God’s mercy.
- Self-sacrifice or giving something up is a common practice during Lent. The idea is that a person forgoes something they enjoy, like eating chocolate or going to the movies. Instead, the money or time sacrificed is set aside to help those in need.
- Giving our money or doing something good for others is a way to respond to God’s generosity and love. During Lent, people are encouraged to offer their time or treasure to the needy. For example, some people volunteer, while others donate the money they typically use to buy their morning coffee to charities.
It’s important to note that doing these three things can never make us earn or deserve Jesus’ sacrifice or a relationship with God. Only a sincere desire to turn away from our sin will reunite us with God.
This Lent, let us make our Lenten observance one of sincere prayer, self-sacrifice, and generosity. When we take up the challenge to keep to our Lenten promises, the death and resurrection of Jesus will have more meaning in our lives.