The season of Lent is a 40 day period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (acts of charity) to help Christians prepare spiritually for the commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week. Lent began on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. The season has its roots in early Christianity when those guilty of serious sin were expelled from the Christian community to wear sackcloth and ashes and to make atonement for their sins. They were reconciled back to the community on Holy Thursday, in time for the celebration of the Paschal Triduum.
During Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
Catholics are encouraged to devote themselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms and to practice self-control through fasting. The faithful are encouraged to dive into God’s word in Scripture or pray the rosary with family members.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.