Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later; depending on the Christian denomination and local custom. Lent concludes either on the evening of Maundy Thursday, or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. It commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, before beginning his public ministry, during which he endured temptations from Satan.
This year, Lent began on March 2nd. During Lent, all Catholics above 16 years old are supposed to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as to abstain from eating meat every Friday.
Father James Martin is a Jesuit priest and best-selling author based in Manhattan, New York. This is his approach to Lent:
As many Catholics approach Lent, they think: “I’ve got to give something up!” But here is another way of thinking about the season…. My favorite way to pray is to use this season as a period of self-examination and conversion. Each Lent I ask myself: “What do I most want to change about myself? Where might God want me to grow in love?” Then at the end of every day, I sit quietly with God for a few moments and look at this particular area. Often, I imagine myself in conversation with Jesus about this aspect of my life, and I ask for his healing and grace.
But one needs to be patient when it comes to change. Conversion isn’t a once-and-for-all event. It takes time, even a lifetime. Try not to be frustrated when you’re not changing “fast enough.” It’s something like watching a child grow up…. Trust in God’s ability to help you to change, and grow, even if you don’t think it’s fast enough, and even if you don’t see it. Because God does.
For this Lenten season, Jacob has given up ice-cream and James, chocolate. My goal for this Lent is to work on self-examination so as to cultivate a contrite heart during prayer.
We wish everyone good luck on their lifelong conversion journey.