As we begin the season of Lent, it is a good idea to look at the meaning of this time of the liturgical year. “Lent” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word, Lencten, which means spring. It was expressly commanded as a forty-day period of prayer in the year 360.
Lent is the great paschal retreat of the church. It disposes us – by prayer, penance, and good works – to more deeply remember the passion and death of Jesus. Lent exists only to lead us to Easter.
Lent helps us get back to basics, inviting us to a deeper understanding of who we are as Christians, where we are ultimately headed, and how well we are doing in our faith life. It is the season of metanoia, that is, of conversion; change of mind and heart to be more like the Lord. It is a time for a “fasting of the heart” – more for self-giving than self-denial, though both are important.