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What is Lent?

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Lent begins after Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. It is within these forty days that we devote ourselves to the Lord in prayer and by reading sacred scriptures. By giving alms and to sacrifice self control through fasting. Many know the tradition about abstaining meat on Fridays but it is also about self discipline throughout this season. In addition giving alms is one way of sharing God’s gifts not only through offerings of money but with the gifts and talents that people have.

Why do we put Ash on our foreheads? The ash is applied to our foreheads in the sign of a cross as an act of repentance. It is also a reminder that life is short and foreshadows of what we become with the redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross. The ashes from Ash Wednesday are usually from blessed palms from the previous Palm Sunday. The ashes are sprinkled with holy water and incensed before being applied to our foreheads. Many people choose to wear the ashes on their foreheads for the remainder of the day as a reminder of their mortality and as witnesses before those as a follower of Jesus Christ.

What is the significance of the 40 weekdays before Easter? The 40 days of Lent is preceded by two biblical accounts.  Lent is 40 days because Moses had stayed on the mountains for forty days and when Elijah had traveled 40 days to Horeb to encounter the Lord, when Jesus Christ had also spent time in the wilderness praying and fasting. We participate in abstinence, fastings and confession to strengthen our faith and devotional disciplines.

Giving something up. For most older catholics Lent brings to mind giving something up. My family we always give up what is not good for us such as soda, chocolate, chips and junk food altogether. We try to give up something and at the end of the week our parents ask each of us how our promise that we made was going. We would all answer something different about how we would struggle in the beginning and if we were tempted during school or on the weekends. In our minds though we are just repeating we can’t wait until Easter. Lent is about conversion turning our lives more completely to Christ and his way of life. It isn’t only about abstaining from sin during this season but also turning away from sin for the rest of lives. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of life and acting in order to live and embrace a life with Christ.

As we near the end of Lent, we celebrate Passion (Palm) Sunday. At the beginning of the Liturgy we receive palms in memory of Christs triumphal entry in Jerusalem. As this symbol of triumph, the palms point us toward Christs resurrection. The palms also represent a symbol against sin and death through the waters of Baptism.

This is what most Christians and Catholics celebrate and do following Ash Wednesday. This season is important for us as we devote ourselves to a more christian life and turning away from sin and converting our old ways into a better life.Image result for lent

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What is Lent?