Lent began on March 6 this year, Ash Wednesday. It lasts 44 days and ends the first day of the Triduum, April 18. The word Lent comes from the Old English word, “lencten” which means ‘’spring.” It also comes from the Old German word “lenzin” which probably refers to “the lengthening of days” of spring and summer. But what is the point of Lent? Well, this liturgical season is a time to prepare for the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, or Easter.
You may have seen changes around your church. For example, you do not see flowers or decorations and the Alleluia Is not sung at Mass because it is a time of repentance and humility. The readings during Lent tie into a theme of penance, for example the story of Jonah the Prophet. We wear purple as a symbol of mourning and we put ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday because Genesis 3:19 says, “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
How exactly do we prepare for Lent? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2043, one of the five precepts of the Catholic Church refers to Catholic Lenten obligations of praying, fasting, and giving alms. When praying, you should quietly pray to yourself, not out loud and fast. Some prayers you can say to yourself are the Act of Contrition, the Stations of the Cross, and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.
Another way we prepare during Lent is by going to confession or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We practice penance by giving up meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday and offering up personal sacrifices, for example sweets. According to Matthew 6:16-18, “You should not make your appearance look like you have been fasting as to keep it to yourself.”
The final way we prepare during Lent is almsgiving, which is the practice of giving money or food to the poor. You should never showcase your almsgiving, but be humble about it. The Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl is a perfect opportunity to give alms. Our pastor, Father Charlie Mitchell, has instructed us with a new vocabulary word that sets the mood of the Lenten season – compunction. Compunction means a feeling of sorrow before choosing to do wrong.
The big question is how does this relate to our Catholic faith? Well, as Catholics, we believe Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross to save us. To properly prepare for the passion and death of Our Lord, we must abide by the obligations of Lent. In doing this, your spirit and body are both prepared for Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Although it might take time and effort, nothing compares to the suffering our Savior went through to forgive our sins.
Article written by Austin, a 7th grade student at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School in Altamonte Springs.
Photo taken by Lauren, a 7th grade student at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic School in Altamonte Springs.