Have you ever asked yourself the question: “What is Lent?” If so, here are some fast facts about this season:
- Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. Both catechumens (those preparing for Baptism) and the faithful prepare for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery at Easter.
- Lent begins on Ash Wednesday continuing until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
- The practices of Lent involves prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
- Lent originated in the first three centuries A.D. and, over the centuries, developed from a one or two day observance to forty days (recalling the 40 day fasts of Christ, Matthew 4:2; Moses, Exodus 34:28; and Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8).
- During the Season of Lent, the Church urges all the Faithful to reflect a spirit of penance in their daily life through performing acts of fast and abstinence.
Fasting requires that only one full meal be taken per day. Two other smaller meals may be taken during the day to maintain physical strength, but these two meals together should not equal a full meal in quantity. Fasting is an obligation for all those who have reached the age of 18 and continues until age 59. Those not specifically obliged to fast are encouraged to join in the discipline of fasting to the extent that they are able.
Abstinence prohibits individuals from eating meat on a particular day. Abstinence is an obligation for all those who have reached the age of 14 and continues throughout their entire life. Those not specifically obliged to abstain from eating meat are encouraged to join in this discipline to the extent that they are able.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence.
- Some traditional Lenten practices and suggestions:
- Fasting and abstinence: donate the money you save to a food pantry
- Self-denial: use some of your time to help someone out
- Good deeds and almsgiving: give to a charity or volunteer to be a catechist
- Prayer and reflection: pray the Rosary or the daily mass readings
- Church services: attend daily mass or attend stations of the cross services
- Reading the Bible: read a gospel from beginning to end
Information courtesy of: St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village, NY. Click here for original article.