“Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” (Joel 2:12-13)
Lent is the 40 day season of preparation for Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter, a time to return to the Lord and examine our hearts. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we are called to a conversion of heart to follow Christ more faithfully.
“Lent is the season of grace in which the desert can become once more – in the words of the prophet Hosea – the place of our first love (cf. Hos 2:16-17). God shapes his people, he enables us to leave our slavery behind and experience a Passover from death to life. Like a bridegroom, the Lord draws us once more to himself, whispering words of love to our hearts.”
Archbishop Cordileone’s Homily for Ash Wednesday 2023
Fasting and Abstinence
Just as Jesus fasted for 40 days before entering his public ministry, so too the Church imitates our Lord in this spiritual self-discipline. During Lent, Catholics 18-59 years of age are asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and Catholics over the age of 14 are asked to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent.
Sacrament of Penance
One of the ways in which the Church encourages Catholics to enter into conversion and repentance during Lent is by participating in the Sacrament of Penance. The Church exhorts her children to go to Jesus for healing. Jesus told St. Faustina: “When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I myself act in your soul. Here, the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy, souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.” (1602)
Consider adding the Sacrament of Penance to your Lenten to-do list this year.
“Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter.” Pope Benedict XVI
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross or “Way of the Cross” is an ancient devotion following the journey of Jesus from his condemnation to death in Pilate’s Praetorium to his burial in the tomb. Each of the 14 stations provide insight into Jesus’ passion and the suffering He endured on the Cross. While the Stations of the Cross can be prayed at anytime, they are traditionally prayed on Fridays, the day of Jesus’s passion and death.
Acts of service and almsgiving
In addition to adding prayer into daily life during Lent, consider also giving back through time, talent and treasure. Praying and advocating for the unborn and their mothers through 40 Days for Life, contributing to the CRS Rice Bowl initiative or giving to the ministries of the Archdiocese through the Annual Appeal are all ways in which we can perform acts of mercy for those around us.
Retreats and Lectures
Take time away from the hustle and bustle of daily life this Lent to prayerfully enter into silence in retreat or join an evening lecture series.