|Illustration ID 268520234 © Antonius Andry Suharto Djumantara | Dreamstime.com|
Lent for Catholics (and some other faiths) is a 40 day season of prayer, almsgiving and fasting, that begins this year on Ash Wednesday February 22, 2023. Ashes derived from burnt palms from last year's Palm Sunday are applied to the foreheads of parishioners in the form of a cross as a reminder: "For dust you are and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20), and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday April 6, 2023. It's a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection at Easter Sunday April 9, 2023 . During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.
Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God's gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs."
(Parts of the above text are borrowed from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website at usccb.org)