What is Lent? | Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Vocations

What is Lent?

Lent means “Spring” and is the Christian season of repentance and preparation beginning with Ash Wednesday and finishing 40 days later (minus Sundays, which are little Easters) with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Good Friday and Easter Sunday).


Holiness simply means to be set apart for God and Lent is a time of practicing  being set apart for and with God.  We do this by reading our Bibles daily, by focusing our minds on the Lord (speaking to Him and listening for His reply throughout the day: in other words – praying) and trusting Him. We practice following His lead to forgive, give, love, bless, and to show compassion on whoever is in front of us, and by letting go of ways of thinking, doing, and being that work against God and His infinite love.  Love for our brothers and sisters here and around the world is holiness.

Lent, the period of 40 days that precedes the celebration of Easter, has its origin in the early days of the Church. Converts seeking to become Christian, who at that time were mostly adults, spent several years in study and preparation. Under the threat of Roman persecution, becoming a Christian was serious business, so their process of preparation was intensive! Then they went through a final period of “purification and enlightenment” for the 40 days before their baptism at Easter. The rest of the Church began to observe the season of Lent in solidarity with these newest Christians. It became an opportunity for all Christians to recall and renew the commitment of their baptism.

Today we know Lent as a season of conversion: We acknowledge the ways we have turned away from God in our lives, and We focus on turning our hearts and minds back toward God. Hence the three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These observances help us turn away from whatever has distracted or derailed us and to turn back to God. Giving up something for Lent is ultimately a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure or indulgence and offer that sacrifice up to God. Or we might “give up” a bad habit such as smoking as a way of positively turning our life back toward what God wants for us.

Video courtesy of Busted Halo YouTube channel

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