A Season of Reflection Renewal and Preparation
What is Lent?
Lent is the 40-day season of preparation for Easter. Lent has two major purposes: It recalls or prepares for Baptism, and emphasizes a spirit of penance. Through forty days of closer attention to God’s Word and of more fervent prayer, we are prepared to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.
During Lent, the reminder of baptism already received, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community along with those being prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery, in which each of the elect will share through the sacraments of initiation. (RCIA 125, Ad gentes, 14)
For those already baptized Lent is a time of preparation to celebrate the paschal mystery through reminders of our baptism and penitential practices. (GNLYC 27)
Lent is a privileged time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This season provides an opportunity to renew and deepen our relationship with Jesus, and to renew the choices we make, so that we might live as he taught.
When is Lent?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018, and continues until the beginning of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday evening, on March 29, 2018. The forty days represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving
In his message for Lent 2018, His Holiness Pope Francis describes “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting” found in the Lenten season.
Prayer – By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. In Bishop Crosby’s Lenten Message from 2017, we are encouraged to “we seek time to pray more – alone and with others. We might choose to read something that will nourish our spiritual life and lead us to more focused personal prayer. We might join our Parish community on Friday evenings for the Stations of the Cross; or we might decide to pray the Rosary as a family on certain evenings during the Lenten season.”
Almsgiving – Almsgiving “sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister.” We give alms to help God’s poor and support the good works of the Church.
Fasting – Through fasting, Pope Francis explains that we find our “spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
The season of Lent is a time of more intense spiritual preparation for those who will be baptised at the Easter Vigil. It is a time of interior reflection intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their consciences and do penance.
The elect participate in the Rite of Election with the Bishop on, or near, the First Sunday of Lent and the scrutinies on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent.
In preparation for their baptism at Easter the elect are presented with the Creed (during the week following the first scrutiny) and the Lord’s Prayer (during the week following the third scrutiny), which they will “return” at the Easter Vigil.
Through these solemn celebrations the minds and hearts of the elect are enlightened with deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior who thirsts for them, gives them light, sight and life. (RCIA 9.4)