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“Lent,” literally meaning “spring” according to the Modern Catholic Dictionary, means a lot for those who take the 46-day trek. Any time of the year can be set aside to give something up for whatever reason. For example, No-Shave November or giving up video games to focus on homework, but Lent is different. Lent means removing the things in our lives that don’t add anything of lasting value. It turns our focus toward replicating the same experience as Jesus’ 40-day pilgrimage in the desert.
Catholics in particular fulfill their obligations more faithfully by fasting from meat on Fridays, abstinence by giving something up and taking that time for more prayer, as well as almsgiving (i.e., charitable giving with more than just money). Doing this in the Lenten cycle turns the focus away from the world’s distractions and instead toward becoming better people as well as authentic Christians.
Catholics and other Christians begin the season with the anointing of ashes on their forehead in the figure of a cross. This reminds them of their mortality, their short time on earth and their Christian baptism. Having done this all my life, the only part of Lent that hasn’t changed is that each year I’ve grown in personal character.
“Christians devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity,” according to Canon 1249 in the Code of Canon Law.
By diverting their time and attention away from what they gave up, Christians deny their own desires so that they’re more open to works of charity and mercy, similar to what Jesus did during his 40-day pilgrimage in the desert. In doing this, we do more than just conquer our personal demons; we conquer the devil’s influence and gradually become masters of our body, our eyes and our mind.
Anticipated at the end of Lent is a more fruitful reception at Easter the graces merited by Christ’s Passion, death and Resurrection.
I’ve always ended up a better, more humble man at the end of my Lenten journey. I hope that the ashes I wore on Ash Wednesday are a sign of the intention to be reconciled; otherwise, it will be a blemish that shows the failure to live up to it and that blemish will shine like a beacon at the time of Judgment.
Reshaping my conscience toward the Father’s expectations is the solution because everything I do should be done for the sake of glorifying God by the life I live; the goal of every Christian, and a goal we can see more clearly by taking the Lenten pilgrimage in our daily lives.