Lent is the traditional time of fasting for Christians. It is a way of preparing to celebrate the Lord’s Passion and Death, so that by coming to grips with the sin in our lives which killed Jesus we may share more fully in the new life he won for us by conquering death.
We can observe Lent by Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving or Works of Charity. Pope Francis has already said that grand gestures are not called for: only the desire to do something to make more room for God and for other people in our lives; in short, to try to be less selfish!
Lent is a season of repentance, of returning to God, so it would be good to prepare to make a worthy confession and seek God’s grace to more generously do his will.
Lent starts on Wednesday this week, when the burnt ashes of last year’s palms are mixed with oil and water and placed on our foreheads, as a sign of mourning and repentance for our sins. They also remind us very starkly of our mortality and that at our death to ‘dust we shall return!’ Lent is kept for forty days and nights, imitating Jesus’ fasting in the desert after his baptism. Sundays and Feasts are exempted from the fast, which thus lasts for five weeks of Lent and Holy Week until Holy Thursday.
Lord God, through whose Word you work out the reconciliation of all mankind, grant that by this holy fast of Lent, in prayer and good works, we may listen more attentively to your Word in our hearts, and grow in obedience to you and in friendship with our neighbour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN