Today, Ash Wednesday, starts the season of Lent. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and abstinence. Lent lasts for forty days and represents the forty days Jesus spent in the desert after He was baptized by John the Baptist. It is also connected with the forty years the Israelites spent in the dessert.
Lent is a time of preparation, it is time of prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial. Different people do different things during Lent, children will often give up candy as an act of self-denial. During Lent the church offers us many opportunities to spend more time in prayer, parishes usually have The Stations of The Cross each week during Lent, many offer opportunites for Eucharistic Adoration, and all should make an effort to take part in the sacrament of Reconcilliation.
Lent is also the time of final preparation for Catechumen's, those preparing to enter the Church, as Holy Week approaches the Catechumen will participate in several Rites, concluding at the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday, where they will come into full communion with Church, it is a wonderful time. Catechumen's may be baptized, confirmed and receive first communion, or confirmed and received first communion if they were already baptized. The Easter Vigil Mass is a brilliant, vibrant Mass celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior and makes all of our preparation time during Lent well worth it.
Lent is what you want to make of it, it can be a time of prayer and fasting and spiritual growth, or it can be a time of nothing, just griping that you can't eat meat on Friday's.
Our parish bulletin states, "We remind ourselves that the Holy Season of Lent is the time for all of us to search our minds and hearts and make the necessary improvements in our spiritual lives."
May the season of Lent be fruitful for all.