What is Lent?
Each year has its own set of holidays related to seasonal changes or national celebrations. As we say goodbye to winter and look toward spring, we celebrate special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, President’s day (a holiday celebrated in the United States of America on the third Monday in February), St. Patrick’s Day, and Mother’s Day, just to name a few.
But what about religious holidays? From Purim (a festive Jewish holiday that falls on March 17th and 18th this year) to Ramadan (a Muslim holiday that begins at sundown on April 2nd) many faith traditions have special celebrations during springtime.
For Christianity, the major spring holiday is the season of Lent. This forty-day season starts with Ash Wednesday, which will be on March 2nd this year, and ends on Palm Sunday. For many Christians around the globe, this season is considered the most sacred time of the year.
What is Lent?
Lent is a liturgical season of conversion that focuses on three spiritual pillars: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. During the 40 days of Lent, we are urged to reflect on our lives, perform acts of charity, and make small sacrifices. Each pillar prepares us for the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.
When does Lent begin, and when does it end?
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a holy day where individuals are encouraged to recognize their faults as humans and take the time to repent for their sins. The actual date of Ash Wednesday is calculated by counting backward from Easter Sunday.
Easter Sunday always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon and after the spring equinox. During the spring equinox, the amount of daylight and nighttime are equal. This year, that falls on March 28th, so Easter Sunday will fall on April 17th.
Lent lasts 40 days and is a symbolic representation of the 40 years the people of Israel spent in the desert with Moses. It also symbolizes the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry.
The season ends on what is known as Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, three days before Easter. The season of Lent ends with the start of Easter, or PaschalTriduum. The Triduum begins at sundown on Holy Thursday followed by a day of solemnity known as Good Friday and then by Holy Saturday.
The Triduum is a time in which we commemorate the passion and death of Jesus Christ in preparation for Easter Sunday and the celebration of the resurrection of Our Lord on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday begins the longest season of the Liturgical year, the Easter Season, or Eastertide which lasts 50 days and ends on the Feast of Pentecost.
Why fast, pray, and give alms during Lent?
Just as an athlete prepares for an important event, Christians of many denominations prepare for the key events of Holy Week through the pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These pillars guide us in daily reflection on our own lives as we strive to deepen our relationship with God and our global community. Lent is a time of personal and spiritual growth and a time to look outward and inward. Lent is a journey of mercy.
Giving alms to the poor is another ancient tradition of the Lenten season.
For many, fasting allows them to save money on certain items. Individuals can then donate that money to organizations like Our Little Roses, whose mission is to empower and transform the girls of Honduras through education and love.
For instance, let’s say you usually drink a bottle of wine on the weekends but choose to fast from it. Instead of spending your money on wine, you could help provide school supplies, food, or education to one of our girls who has survived neglect, abuse, poverty, and trauma. This act of charity adds a deeper meaning to the sacrifice you are making by fasting. It is an important part of this time of reflection to intentionally sacrifice for the good of another.
To help everyone throughout their Lenten journey this year, the Chair of Our Little Roses Board of Directors, Bishop Leo Frade, will be sharing reflections on Ash Wednesday and each Sunday of Lent with a final message on Easter. You can find the meditations on social media and the Our Little Roses website. Last year, the Chaplain at Holy Family Chapel at Our Little Roses in San Pedro Sula Honduras shared his reflections. Each meditation released weekly throughout Lent will focus on the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
At Our Little Roses, we keep the lessons of Lent on our minds every day. Our mission is to live out the teachings of Jesus in all that we do. His love for all of his followers is why we aim to treat everyone we meet as our brothers and sisters. Our girls’ lives are a reflection of Lent and Easter Sunday in many ways. They come from the darkness of poverty, abuse, and neglect. Through the love and support of people like you, they can live a new life full of possibilities and hope.
Contact us for more information on what we do at Our Little Roses!