In early Christian times, people spent the three days before Easter, also known as the Triduum, fasting and praying. New converts, or catechumens, prayed and fasted the 3 weeks prior to their baptism on Easter. Many other early Christians, especially in Rome, adopted the 3-week period of the catechumens. It was not until the 4th century that Lent increased to the current length of 40 days, lasting from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. These forty days are representative of the time Jesus spent fasting and avoiding temptation in the desert.
Being a season of penance, Lent encourages us to sacrifice. Although most Catholics typically try to abstain from an activity, such as eating sweets or drinking alcohol, others prefer to do something extra such as praying the rosary daily, or volunteering their time and money to those in need. These daily acts of penance help us turn away from sin and grow in virtue. After all, Easter is a new beginning, and a perfect time for us to renew our devotion to God.
This Lent, what are you giving up? Please share your Lenten intentions in the comments of this blog article.
The Catholic Company offers many useful books and materials on Lent and the Easter season to help you to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and supreme act of love and mercy for each and every one of us.
Here are a few of our customer’s favorite Lent resources:
Day by Day through Lent: In his own efforts to "keep Lent" and develop a more intimate dialogue with the Lord, Father Lowery has compiled a collection of rich reflections based on the biblical readings for each day of Lent. From a review by a Catholic Company customer:
"It’s great to have something simple and quick to read and start your day in the right way. No reason anyone would not have time for this DAILY. It helps your day direction to stay focused on what God wants for us."
In Conversation with God, Lent and Eastertide: This volume contains a series of meditations that follows the Lent and Easter calendar. Each day's meditation is divided into three parts and is five or six pages long. From a review by a Catholic Company customer:
"This is an excellent collection of meditations that tie in with the readings of the daily mass. It is brief enough to not take too much time to read, and yet very insightful, with practical applications in daily life. Quotations from various saints, Fathers of the church and various Catholic documents are very helpful. This book was given to me as a gift by one of my sisters last year, and it helped me so much through my Lenten journey that I have bought several copies to share with family and friends this year."
Lent is for Children – Stories, Activities, Prayers: This is a handy booklet which helps young Catholics understand and truly participate in the Lenten season. Some of the basic topics covered in this Lent book for children are: prayer, fasting, sacrifice, reconciliation and Holy Week events. One Catholic Company customer wrote:
"I ordered this book for my 8-year-old granddaughter. She attends Catholic school but is not yet Catholic. I thought it would make the Lenten season easier for her to understand. She was so excited when she received the book and is absolutely enthralled with it! She took it to school, the day after she received it, and her teacher also thought it was fabulous—so much so that I ended up ordering a copy for her as well!"