We begin the church Season of Lent on Ash Wednesday with ashes on our foreheads and the foreboding words “Remember o man, of dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return”. The Season ends 40 days later on the Eve of Easter; the celebration of the Resurrection.
Lent is a time of great introspection. A time to consider our lives and how we may have sinned against God and against each other. It is a time of objective evaluation and penitence. It can be painful. It can be unburdening. It is a time to seek forgiveness and absolution of sins we have committed and those we have done by omission (those things that we ought to have done but did not) bringing us closer to God.
Lent is a time of self sacrifice; to amend our lives in some meaningful way to help focus our minds, hearts and souls on things not of this world. Some people fast during the Lenten period. The custom is over 1600 years old and is shared by many religions and cultures. Many find that fasting curbs our sinfulness and raises our minds from things of Earth. The fast is a personal decision. Some people sacrifice certain foods or meals, others give up a meaningful activity, still others add something to their lives (readings and study or volunteering to help others). The Lenten Fast is intended to be a reminder of Our Lord’s sacrifice and to keep us focused on the Lenten prayer and repentance.