Why Do Catholics…Part 14 – Celebrate Lent

Lent6 With only a few weeks to go before we celebrate Easter, I thought it would be a good time to talk about why we, as Catholics, celebrate Lent.

Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Lent is the period of preparation before the holy time of Easter.  It is the time that we can cleanse our souls and redirect our lives.  We can use this time to die to sin and to rise again with Christ on Easter.  We are called to greater prayer, fasting and almsgiving to help ready ourselves.   Lent proceeds through Holy Week and ends after the sacred triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday so that we may celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter morning.

We can explain each of the Lenten sacrifices to our children in this way:

Prayer – God is asking us for a closer relationship with Him.  He wants us to talk to Him, spend time with Him, get to know Him and read His book!  We can really get to know him by spending time with him at Adoration or sitting in prayer with Him.  We can read our favorite Bible stories and even some we haven’t heard about before.  We can honor His mother Mary by praying the rosary.  Like with a good friend, God loves to hear from us.  Even if it is just a quick prayer – like a text or phone call to a friend – it reinforces and strengthens our relationship with Him.

Fasting – We are on this earth for such a short time, but we can get so attached to all of the things of this world – the fun of video games, the tastiness of food, the enjoyment of movies and tv.  When we fast from certain foods, deprive ourselves of entertainment, or weaken a reliance on a possession, we turn our attention away from earthly ties and look up to Heaven.  It doesn’t have to be a huge sacrifice – just something that regularly reminds us that we are not of this earth either.  God intended for us to be in Heaven with Him and thinking of that can make our sacrifices of fasting easier.

Almsgiving – Traditionally, almsgiving can mean giving money to the poor or other worthy recipients.  And donating of our earthly wealth during Lent is especially valuable.  But giving alms can also mean giving of ourselves – being better stewards of our time and talents.  Perhaps that means signing up for extra altar serving, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or spending time with a friend in need when you had other plans for yourself.  Almsgiving turns us outside of ourselves to see other people’s needs – other Children of God.

And although Sundays are not technically considered to be part of the forty days of Lent, sacrificing on Sunday can be an additional means of preparing ourselves for Easter, making sure that our souls are ready to soar with Christ!


One Response to Why Do Catholics…Part 14 – Celebrate Lent

  1. Jim Walter says:

    Fasting and abstinence during Lent and abstinence on Fridays throughout the year have been part of the rule for all Catholics since the early centuries of the Church. Pope Paul VI in 1966 changed the Church rule on Friday abstinence from “how to” abstain to just “to” abstain. Under the guidance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, we can choose not to abstain from meat but we are still required to abstain from something (alcohol, sodas, coffee, texting, listening in the radio in the car, watching our favorite TV show)on Fridays for the spiritual reasons you list above. Unfortunately not very many Catholics understand this requirement.
    Love, Dad

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