- Lent is a period of fasting leading up to Easter. The season is rooted in the 40-day fast of Jesus in the wilderness. Catholic Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, and ends right before the evening Masses of Holy Thursday, although Lenten penance continues through Holy Saturday.
The purpose of Lent is to reflect on the death and resurrection of Christ and allow God to transform our lives. The reason Christians began to “give something up” was to give themselves time to focus on Christ or to allow their hunger to make them hungry for God.
Lent is a season of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, conversion, and simplicity. Lent, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our service to him.
There are a few basic tasks that traditionally have been associated with Lent. Many of these have a long history. These are fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. In addition, reading the Scriptures and the Church’s Writings can help one grow during the season.
Lenten prayers and devotions
• Begin each morning with the prayer: “Lord, I offer you this day, and all that I think, and do, and say.”
• Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.
• Make the Stations of the Cross at home or in a parish celebration.
• Read Scripture for 10 minutes every day.
• Pray the Seven Penitential Psalms (Psalm 6, 31, 50, 101, 129 and 142).
• Spend some time in quiet prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
• Abstain from meat for an extra day or two each week.
• Listen to spiritual music or a spiritual speaker.
• Keep a Lenten journal with your spiritual insights, special intentions, people you want to pray for, hurts and disappointments that you want to offer up, and progress reports on your Lenten resolutions.
PRAYER BEFORE A CRUCIFIX
(The Friday Indulgence
On any Friday during Lent a plenary indulgence is granted the Christian faithful who, after Communion, devoutly recite the above prayer before an image of Jesus Christ crucified.)
Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus,I cast myself upon
my knees in Your sight, and with the most fervent desire of
my soul I pray and beseech You that You would
impress upon my heart lively sentiments of Faith, Hope, and Charity,
with true repentance for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment,
while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself
and mentally contemplate Your five most precious Wounds;
having before my eyes the words which David in prophecy
spoke concerning Yourself, O good Jesus:
“They have pierced my hands and feet;
they have numbered all my bones.