Lent was inspired by a great catechesis carried out by the early Church
Among all Christian solemnities, the first place is occupied by the paschal mystery, because we must prepare ourselves to live it properly. For this reason, Lent was instituted, a time of forty days to arrive with dignity at the celebration of the Easter Triduum.
Lent, as a mandatory practice, was instituted in the 4th century, but Christians have always been preparing for Easter with intense prayer, fasting and penance. The number of forty days has a symbolic-biblical meaning: forty are the days of the flood, of Moses ‘stay on Mount Sinai, of Jesus’ temptations. Guided by this time and by practices – as if guided by a compass -, we seek the treasures of faith to grow in following our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasts, tears and groans; tear the heart and not the garments; and return to the Lord your God; he is benign and compassionate, patient and full of mercy, inclined to forgive punishment ”(cf. Joel 12, 12-13).
This forty-day period was inspired by a great catechesis carried out by the early Church. It lasted forty days, a time when pagans (catechumens) were preparing to receive baptism on Holy Saturday, within the Solemnity of the Easter Vigil. They also accompanied the brothers who had committed serious sins to return to the faith. That time was marked by penance and prayer, by fasting and listening to the Word of God. They were the “penitents”, who renewed their faith and received baptism or were reinstated to the community on Holy Saturday.
Deep time in the Church
On Ash Wednesday, we begin the richest and most profound time of the liturgy. In fact, this time, which covers Lent, Holy Week and Easter until Pentecost, is a great retreat, the center of the Mystery of Christ and of our faith and salvation. Privileged time of conversion and spiritual combat, of medical and charitable fasting. Lent is still, above all, a time for listening to the Word of God, for a deeper catechesis, which reminds Christians of the great baptismal themes in preparation for Easter.
.: Lent, time of fasting and penance
.: Lent should lead us to conversion, penance and mercy
.: Beware of absurd penances in Lent
Our whole life becomes a spiritual sacrifice, which we continually present to the Father, in union with the sacrifice of the suffering and poor Jesus, so that, through Him, with Him and in Him, the Father may be praised and glorified in everything . For this reason, Lent is a biblical, pastoral, liturgical and existential journey for each Christian personally and for the Christian community in general, which begins with ashes and ends with the night of light and fire, the holy night of Easter of the Resurrection. of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We will reflect on the direction of our spirituality until the Passover of Our Lord Jesus, that is, the new life that He has for us, the Lenten exercises of conversion. The Ash Wednesday liturgy has the Gospel proclaimed in which, Our Lord, speaks about almsgiving, prayer and fasting, according to Matthew 6,1-8,16-18.