Lent is an opportunity to make peace with the human condition we run from throughout the year and understand our Lord and our need for a Savior better. As mentioned on 40acts (a website created by a UK-based charity), “Lent is more frequently seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter. From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting or giving something up or abstinence.”
The Lenten season in 2021 began with Ash Wednesday on February 17, 2021. For those following the 40-day tradition, Lent ends on April 3, 2021 (Holy Saturday). For those adhering to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper for Catholics tradition that falls on Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, Lent will end on April 1, 2021.
Lent traditions and their symbolism
Here are some Lent practices and what they signify:
Fasting and prayer
If done right, fasting can help renew your relationship with God. Fasting is mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible, with Moses (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:9, 18), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8), and our Lord (Matthew 4:2) all undertaking 40-day fasts, making it an essential part of Christianity.
Fasting is a way of denying ourselves the excesses of life, so we’re in tune with the Lord’s voice. It’s also a way to discipline yourself so that when temptations arise in life, you can stay strong. Lastly, in a small way, fasting helps us participate in the sufferings of Christ and can be quite powerful when accompanied by prayer and confession.
Meditating on Christ’s sacrifice for humankind
Along with periodic fasting and prayer, our scriptural meditations help focus on the salvation we received through the suffering of Christ. To do this, read the Old Testament Scriptures prophesying Christ’s suffering and the New Testament Gospel accounts.
Almsgiving or charity is another vital element of Lent. As stated in the Bible (1 Peter 5:6), “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”