Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. As cradle-Catholics from New Orleans most of us know, at the very least on a shallow level, what that means: giving up something, no meat on Fridays , and crawfish boils. But what is the meaning of Lent? Why does the Church find it prudent to give this period of time before Easter.

Lent is supposed to be a time of conversion emphasizing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. During lent we are supposed to be identifying and joining with Jesus' forty days of fasting in the desert before he began his public ministry. Lent is supposed to be a time during which make real and intentional efforts to rid ourselves of those habits and activities which hinder or break our relationship with Jesus.

Prayer is essentially conversation, relationship with Jesus.
Fasting is meant to discipline our bodies so that we learn that we are not required to scratch every itch. It teaches us the self-control requires to resist the temptations of sin, especially sins of the flesh (those sexual or gluttonous in nature).
Almsgiving is to remind us of the solidarity we have with all, especially the poor and marginalized. In giving to the poor we are giving to Jesus.

I will attempt to post further Lenten reflections over the next 40 days, but in the meantime, the following websites have some good reflections:
US Bishops
Growing in Virtue during Lent
Lent: FAQ's
A Catholic Life: Everything Lent
A Former Atheists Perspective on Lent

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