The season of Lent is a time prayer, fasting, self-examination for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. It lasts for a period of days 40 days (like the flood in Genesis, Moses at Mount Sinai, Elijah’s journey to Mount Horeb, and Jonah’s Ninevah experience) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Sundays are not counted in the total time because each Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection.
Lent was a time, in the early church, for preparation of baptism that was held at the Easter Vigil. Today, in many churches Lent still remains a time to prepare candidates for baptism and confirmation.
A new life in Christ causes us to give up our old life and let go of old habits so that we may take on a new humanity. Our old habits and beliefs must die so that we can take on characteristics that make us more Christ like. The Lenten belief is that by dying we live. As we are baptized into Christ, we are also baptized into His death. In order to experience the resurrection, we must experience the passion of Christ. The way to Easter is through the death of our old habits, thoughts, and traditions. It is through this dying that we live.
At the beginning of Lent we are reminded that nothing lasts forever – possessions, families, even our life. This is made clear on Ash Wednesday when the words “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) are recited as ashes are placed on our foreheads in the shape of a cross.
By the resurrection of Jesus changes in our values and behavior become possible. By following the Lenten path of prayer, fasting and giving of our resources we are led to the destination of Easter.
During Holy Week, we hear of Christ’s passion, his death, and resurrection. Holy Week focuses of His passion. As disciples of Jesus we travel His path as a servant through the Lord’s Supper, suffering on the cross, and the glory of the resurrection on Easter.