What IS Lent about anyway?

Another ignorant question from me! I’ve been a Catholic for 8 years now and I have loved every minute of it. However, I am decidedly ignorant about Lent!! And each Lent I walk away totally clueless and frustrated.

  1. Where/when did Lent originate.

  2. Why do we fast and “give up” stuff?

  3. What’s the POINT of Lent??

Please help me understand Lent so that I may acctually participate fully this year!

Thanks and GOD BLESS!

-Michelle Therese

Well…I’m sure you’ll get better answers later, but let me start:

It’s 40 days, to symbolise the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. Also, in Jewish custom ‘40’ means ‘forever, a very long time without end’.

We basically fast as Jesus fasted in the desert, and fasti9ng has always been used in the church, as in Judaism, so bring youraself closer to God through hunger. When you are hungry you can truly concentrate on the fact that you are mortal, that you need food…And as Jesus is the ‘Bread and the Life’ it helps us concentrate on the fact that we need HIM!

Abstaining from meat. Orginally meat was the most expensive, difficult to obtain food. So, abstaining from meat WILLINGLY really meant something, it meant you were willing to put God above your bodily needs.

‘Giving up’ things such as sweets, TV, going out during Lent also helps us focus on what really matters in life: God.

And during the last week before Easter, Holy Week we actively re-create the last days of Jesus on earth. We walk the stations of the cross with him, we see the feet of the apostles being washed at the Last Supper, we are with Him at Golgotha as He dies…and then at Easter we share in the joy of His disciples when they realise He has risen!

If you read the appropriate passages in the New Testament, you’ll see: it’s all there! And as Catholics, it is important to really concentrate on Him during Lent…let’s face it: the rest of the year, religion doesn’t tend to feature hugely in the daily lives of most of us…40 days out of 365 to really be with Him, is not too much to ask, is it?!

As I said…others will come up with more theological answers, this is just what I could quickly type from memory, I hope it is helpful to you!

Anna x

Lent is the period of time before Easter when we focus on the sacrifice that Christ made for us. It is also in anticipation of the Resurrection, in which Christ opens up to us the promise of Eternal Life. In order to be ready for this, we prepare ourselves by renewing our focus towards the Lord, contemplate on our sins and finding ways to change our lives so that we can live in a more holier way. We do this by prayer, reflection, repentence of our sins (confession), sacrifice (fasting/abstinence). It’s all done in the hopes that with the Risen Christ, we can be worthy of His mercy and forgiveness.

Lent is a time we spend sharing in Christ’s passion and growing closer to God.

Check out these sites. They may be helpful:



And, I would add that to me Lent is somewhat of a spiritual retreat. It is a time when I spend more time praying and focusing on the Lord by giving up things like TV and eating in between meals, and contributing more to worthwhile charities.

It motivates us to take a spiritual inventory of where we are and to desire to walk closer with the Lord.

Just as Advent is the time when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Christ, Lent is the time we prepare ourselves to recall the passion/death/resurrection of Christ. It is a time we fast, confess our sins, and prepare ourselves spiritually. On Easter we renew our baptismal vows.


Michelle Therese:

Not a silly question at all…but I think I’ll attempt to give you a bigger answer.

The Liturgical Year of the Catholic Church follows the life of Christ in its seasons…therefore, there’s Advent (awaiting the arrival of Chirst), Christmas Season (Birth of Christ up to the Feast of the Holy Family, yes Christmas begins on the eve of the 24th and lasts about 2 weeks-so really we should sing Christmas carols in public until then!), Ordinary Time (Christ lived a normal life prior to his public life), and Lent-Easter Weekend (the 40 days of fasting of Christ, the Passion and Resurrection) Easter lasts about 7 weeks.

If we’re attentive to the Liturgical Season, we go through these peaks and valleys in our interior life as well. The growth of the interior life of every Catholic is built-in the liturgical year. It’s actually really cool. The focus for each season is highlighted and we are to grow with it, in it. This design is not only poetic in its beauty but also efficatious to our growth in love with God and in the virtues that these seasons bring.

Hope that helps.

God Bless.

I will offer the explanation I wrote for our KofC Bulletin.

Lent is starts on March 1. Lent is liturgically the time for our Catechumens (those who have never been baptized) to Convert, Repent, Fast, Pray and do Penance in preparation for the sacrament of Baptism which they will receive at the Easter Vigil. We join with them in this using Lent as the time to discipline our bodies and build our souls. Curbing our appetites is a good place to start. The Catechism states:

*¶ 2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits. The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. . . . *


*¶ 2426 The development of economic activity and growth in production are meant to provide for the needs of human beings. Economic life is not meant solely to multiply goods produced . . . *

We are meant to be satisfied with a sufficiency. We are told in **James 4:1-3 **

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?

You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask.

You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Worse than sex and violence may be TV’s constant hyping of our need for more, for newer, for better. Let us use this Lent to get our priorities straight.