As I said in my previous post, tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. You may have noticed Catholic friends on Facebook or Twitter puzzling out what they want to “give up” for Lent, or reminding themselves to receive ashes at church tomorrow. Actually, you may even have noticed your friends list noticeably decreasing, which probably means you have some friends giving up Facebook for Lent :-P But what is Lent, and why do we do this stuff?
Lent is the liturgical season in the Catholic Church that is penitential in character and serves to prepare the faithful for they mysteries of Holy Week, which culminate in the memorial of Jesus’s suffering and death on the Cross for everyone’s sins (Good Friday) and his resurrection on Easter Sunday, which offers us the promise of everlasting life with him. Lent is a time for personal reflection on our relationship with God, especially on our sinfulness, in which we willingly choose to distance ourselves from God. It is a time for reconciliation to God, especially via the Sacrament of Confession, which in turn leads to a renewal in our spiritual lives. Lent is traditionally lived out in practical ways by taking on practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving or charity.
If you’ve looked around the Catholic blogosphere, you’ve probably already found a lot of articles written on Ash Wednesday and Lent, so instead of elaborating on my own, I’ll share a few good links here for you to check out:
http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/2012/02/5-simple-ways-to-share-your-catholic.html - This is a post from the blog Aggie Catholics which shares 5 simple ways to share the Catholic faith tomorrow.
http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2012/02/21/this-lent-let-yourself-be-loved/ - This post on the social network Ignitum Today reminds us not to allow ourselves to wallow in the misery of our sinfulness, but rather to reach out and accept the mercy, forgiveness, and healing that God continually offers us, so that we can live our lives in true joy.
http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/02/ash-wednesday-fasting-abstaining-and-you/ - On Father Z’s blog, he reminds us of the practical definitions and requirements of the Church in regards to fasting (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) and abstinence from meat (Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent).
http://www.catholic.org/clife/lent/story.php?id=44865 - Deacon Keith Fournier gives a detailed explanation of Lent: what the season is and why we do what we do.
http://lifeteen.com/why-do-catholics-put-ashes-on-our-heads-on-ash-wednesday/ - Mark Hart offers the explanation of why I’m gonna have dirt on my forehead tomorrow :-)
In my next post, I’ll offer a few tips and tricks of my own regarding Lent, and perhaps share a couple of my own personal practices that I’ve chosen for this year.