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What Every Catholic Should Know About Lent

The Lenten Season begins Wednesday, February 26, 2020 – Ash Wednesday.

What is Lent?

It’s the 40-day period in the Church year set aside for spiritual preparation for Easter. It’s a time of renewal. New members of the Church prepare for the purifying Sacrament of Baptism. Other Christians recall their own baptism.

Time of Penance

Through special Lenten practices, Christians seek forgiveness for sins, to restore the soul and to strengthen faith. It has two main parts: 1) Lent Proper begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. 2) Holy Week is observed from Palm Sunday to the Easter Vigil on the following Saturday evening.

Why is Lent important?

Lent prepares you to celebrate more fully the death and Resurrection of Jesus. For individuals and the community, it intensifies Christian’s…

HOPE: Christians strive to understand more deeply the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ passage through death to eternal life and His promise of renewed life to those who believe.

FAITH: Christians try to strengthen and increase their faith and loyalty to Jesus through spiritual discipline and purification.

LOVE: Through self-sacrifice and works of charity, Christians seek to rise above self-love and follow the spirit of Jesus’ sacrifice.

How to Observe Lent

To reach the joy and the promise of the Easter celebration, you must prepare and renew your soul.

Spiritual Renewal is based on True Sorrow for Sins: You must acknowledge your sins and resolve to turn back to God. Recall how Christ suffered for your sins. Seek forgiveness for your sins and take part in the Sacrament of Penance. Pray for help to amend your life.

Spiritual Growth: Strive to advance towards holiness. Acknowledge your total reliance on God. Cultivate Christian virtues. Reflect on the real meaning of the baptismal commitment. Fulfil this pledge of faith in your everyday life. Try to be a reflection of God’s goodness.

Penance: Penance encourages spiritual growth. It is really a return to God, a conversion of mind and heart. Doing penance helps to erase the guilt of sin and to heal and purify the soul. Do penance to gain control over sinful inclinations. Follow or adapt traditional Lenten practices such as fasting and self-denial. Fasting and Abstinence encourages spiritual maturity.

Meaning: Fasting means limiting the number of daily meals (unless impractical for medical reasons). Abstinence means not eating certain foods.

Purpose: These penances will help you to develop self-discipline, to achieve spiritual purification and to find forgiveness for sin. Sacrifice cheerfully, in the right spirit – not to show off will power or personal accomplishment.

Church Law: Fasting is usually required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday: urged on Holy Saturday. Abstinence from meat is required on all Lenten Fridays. —Courtesy The Christian Herald, diocesan monthly of The Catholic Diocese of Belize City and Belmopan.