“We cannot regard this Lent as just another liturgical season which has simply happened to come around again. It is a unique time: a divine aid which we should accept. Jesus is passing by and he hopes that we will take a great step forward – today, now”
St. Josemaria Escriva; Christ is Passing By
Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. Fasting, almsgiving and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for baptism or of renewal of baptism at Easter.
After his baptism in the Jordan River and his blessing by the Father, Jesus withdrew into the desert, where he spent 40 days in fasting and prayer. His sojourn culminates in his facing temptation and defeating Satan, a foreshadowing of his final victory over the Prince of the World through his passion and resurrection.
During Lent, we are called to unite ourselves to the mystery of Christ’s desert experience. Our desert is different, but also a place of trial. As Pope Benedict XVI described it, “the desert is also the negative aspect of the reality that surrounds us: the aridity, the poverty of words and values, the secularism and materialism” that attempt to convince people that God does not exist. But we have also been baptized. We have also been blessed and acknowledged by the Father. And, we also can rely upon his grace as we journey through the Lenten desert to Easter.
During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to practice self-control through fasting. We journey so as to rediscover and strengthen our personal relationship with Christ and his Father. But we do not journey alone. We journey in a community of faith, as members of the body of Christ, as a Church.