Here are the basics of what to look forward to during this year’s Lenten journey toward Easter.
Ash Wednesday is on Valentine’s Day
On a day typically reserved for chocolates, candies and delicious meals shared with a loved one, the Church asks you to fast, pray and abstain from meat! Take it as an opportunity to pray with each other and grow deeper in a true and abiding love of God.
Lent lasts 40 days and ends on April 1 (no fools!)
In imitation of Jesus fasting in the desert, the Church instituted a special season of fasting that lasts 40 days. However, the six Sundays in Lent are not considered part of the official “Lenten fast” (every Sunday is a special remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ). For this reason, Easter is “technically” 46 days after Ash Wednesday. This year Easter lands on April 1, but is no joke!
The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting and almsgiving
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others. Alongside the radical purification brought about by Baptism or martyrdom they cite as means of obtaining forgiveness of sins: effort at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, tears of repentance, concern for the salvation of one’s neighbor, the intercession of the saints, and the practice of charity ‘which covers a multitude of sins.'”
Lent is a time to practice these essential spiritual practices and clean out our interior house.