Lent is honouring the sacrifice of Jesus. It is a season of 40 days, not counting Sundays (46 days if include Sundays) which begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Lent derives from the Anglo Saxon word ‘lencten’, which means spring. The forty days of Lent represents the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptation of Satan and preparing to begin his ministry.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of reflection. Lent used to be a time to prepare for baptism. Sundays are not counted in the forty days of Lent because each Sunday represents a mini-Easter and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
The key elements of the Lenten season and the symbolism that comes with it include confession, fasting, prayer and meditation. The 40 days of Lent are set aside to examine areas of recurring sin in our lives that prevent us from being conformed to God’s will. Fasting is a powerful time of renewing relationship with God. It is a way of disciplining and strengthening our spiritual muscles. Fasting is a way of participating in the sufferings of Christ and it can be powerful when accompanied by prayer and confession.
It is also important to be aware of not only the suffering and sacrifice of Christ but also of the suffering of others. Therefore charity and almsgiving during the Lenten season is also important.
The official colour of Lent is purple. Purple is the colour of repentance for sins and symbolises the state of our souls outside the light of Christ.