I’d like to begin by sharing with you a few facts about Lent:
The word Lent is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning “Spring,” and lenctentid, meaning “March,” the month in which the majority of Lent falls.
By the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (acts of charity) constituted its primary spiritual exercises.
The next development concerned how much fasting was to be done. Early on, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, around 3:00 p.m. Today, fasting means eating one bigger meal, and two smaller meals, on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, with no snacking between meals.
Do Sundays “count” as Lent, or not? There is no consensus. Because Lent ends with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, including or excluding Sundays does not add up to 40. I say, “Do whatever helps you maintain your Lenten discipline.”
Lent is the time for Catholics (and all Christians, really) to try to become better – better people, better Christians, better disciples of Jesus Christ. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are not ends in themselves; rather, they are ways of making ourselves “smaller,” so that God and others may become “bigger.”
In the ninth century, St. Benedict told his monks that Lent gave them the opportunity to live, as they should be living every other day of the year. What was true for the monks long ago is also true for us today. Recognizing that our own needs are not at the center of the world is the foundation for recognizing that we are connected to all of creation.
Lent is the time, Lent is the way. May God bless our journeys.