As Lent approaches, which will take place this year from Wednesday February 22 to Thursday April 6, many Christians are asking themselves the question of what Lent is, what it means and how to carry it out. Indeed, when it comes to their first Lent, it is not always easy for a Christian to understand the meaning of this period and what it symbolizes. As a result, some people, due to lack of knowledge or instructions, end up abandoning the idea of Lent, which is obviously sad.
Through this article, we will try to answer all your questions related to Lent, whether in terms of its calendar, its meaning and what to do or not to do during this time of the year if important in the life of a Christian.
To begin, we suggest that you return to the very essence of Lent and try to understand what this time of year means when Christians seek as much as possible to get away from the world to get closer to God. Subsequently, we will be able to see how to carry out this Lent and what to do and not to do.
The meaning of Lent
Lent is a period of fasting and penance in the Christian liturgical calendar, lasting 40 days before Easter (excluding Sundays). Believers often commit to giving up certain pleasures or performing acts of charity to focus on prayer, spiritual meditation, and reflection on their relationship with God.
The origin of Lent is linked to the biblical tradition of fasting and penance. It is based on the account of Jesus' temptation in the desert, where he fasted for 40 days before beginning his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11). Lent was established as a period of preparation for believers before the feast of Easter, to remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Over time, Lent has become a time of repentance and spiritual renewal for Christians, where they can focus on their relationship with God and prepare for the celebration of Easter. The Church has listed a number of qualities to mark this special time, such as fasting, prayer, almsgiving and acts of charity.
Lent this year (2023) will begin on Wednesday, February 22 and end on Thursday, April 6. It is this period of 40 days that is called Lent.
Having understood the meaning and reason for the existence of Lent, it is now possible for us to address what it constitutes and thus, what to do during this period and obviously, what to avoid. TO DO.
What to do during Lent
As said before, Lent is a time of year to get as close as possible to God. Like Christ who was tempted for 40 days in the desert but who did not succumb to sin, we are invited to imitate him and try during these 40 days to renounce sin and temptation as much as possible. . Here is what constitutes the essential practices present during Lent:
- There are several ways to celebrate Lent, but some common practices include:
- Fasting: eating less or simple foods while giving up the pleasures of the table.
- Prayer: devote more time to personal or group prayer.
- Generosity: making donations or helping people in need.
- Spiritual reflection: reading the Bible, listening to sermons, participating in spiritual retreats.
- Abstinence: giving up certain activities or habits that may distract from spirituality.
Fasting: abstaining from a meal during the day and settling for a lean meal that does not include meat or sweets. The typical meal for a young person is often composed of rice, pasta, potatoes with vegetables and sometimes a little fish. It is advisable to fast as much as possible during Lent, but while respecting your bodily needs so as not to endanger your health. During Lent, the days of fasting are freely set by each person with the exception of 2 days which must be the subject of a fast: this is Ash Wednesday which corresponds to the first day of Lent, i.e. this year on Wednesday February 22, and Good Friday April 7, 2023, symbolizing the day of the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, three days before his resurrection at Easter. Fasting has a true healing effect on the soul by helping us to draw closer to God by abandoning earthly pleasures, even the food which is nevertheless vital to us.
Prayer: Prayer is one of the fundamental obligations for a successful Lent, it is necessary and we know that it is not always easy during busy days, to devote as much time as possible to the Lord by speaking to Him, by praying to Him. whether it is for us as for our brothers and sisters or even to glorify or thank him. There are no specific times to pray, especially if you are beginners. Monks and men of the Church have specific times of prayer, but these will be difficult for you to keep, so let yourself be carried away by prayer, it can be in the morning at the foot of the bed, at midday after eating, in the evening before going to bed. The important thing is that this prayer is sincere.
In addition, we advise all Christians to pray, if possible, one rosary per day during this period of Lent, there is no obligation but this is strongly recommended in order to purify their spirit by devoting this little quarter of an hour of their day farewell. If you want to make a rosary, don't forget to recite the mysteries which vary according to the days of the week, you will find right here "how to pray the rosary" a wonderful guide to praying the rosary and a calendar explaining the different mysteries of the rosary. life of Christ and their day of fulfillment.
Generosity: Generosity is not very difficult to understand, it is about doing good to those around you without expecting anything in return other than to please God, this can involve forgiving someone with whom we are in conflict, giving poor people a smile etc. For our part, we have two ideas if you are young and don't necessarily have the necessary means to give money to the poor and these two ideas are completely free! The first is to deprive yourself of a small pleasure and to say to God “this pleasure I give to you, give it to the poor” this can involve not eating a cake, not spending a long time on your phone etc., this will serve as a spiritual offering and that is magnificent! The second little idea is to send a letter on the internet to elderly people who are isolated and don't see many people regularly, this will put a smile on their face and will make them very happy, plus you can also talk to them about our Lord! For this, we recommend the site “ 1lettre1sourire ” which is really great!
Spiritual reflection: the purpose of spiritual reflection will be to learn to know God, the Gospel and holy Catholic doctrine better. This will obviously involve reading the Word of God, even if it is only 5 small pages a day, that is already quite a lot! This will also involve understanding very important principles of Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, for which we have made a dedicated article here "Understanding the Holy Trinity" but also the filioque for which we will soon make a dedicated blog article as well, without forgetting the symbolism and importance of the Eucharist etc. You can also participate in prayer vigils or gatherings between young Christians. To find out about this type of event, do not hesitate to ask your Priest! Finally, you can watch Christian videos such as podcasts or YouTube videos. We can in particular recommend the “ Brother Paul Adrien ” channel but also the “ ProEcclesia ” YouTube channel which addresses slightly more complex themes of Christian doctrines but all so vital!
Abstinence: Abstinence is the fact of avoiding carrying out a certain number of non-daily activities which can distance us from God, this abstinence can be total or partial for example, it is true that it is It is difficult when you are young to completely cut yourself off from social networks for 40 days. If this is too difficult for you, you can do it gradually by starting by going on your phones 30 minutes less each day, then 1 hour, then 2 hours, then 3 hours and maybe during the last week of Lent I will manage not to go on social networks at all all day! Obviously this does not only involve abstaining from social networks but also abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol, pornography, video games, in short all those little moments of your day (sinful or not) that you could rather spend to draw you closer to God! Obviously one of the goals of Lent is for this abstinence to become a habit and not just during Lent but throughout the year in order to constantly bring you a little closer to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. !
What not to do during Lent
As said previously, Lent is a time to get closer to God by cutting ourselves off from certain pleasures of daily life to instead nourish ourselves with the love of God, there are therefore a certain number of things what not to do during Lent in order to achieve a perfect Lent! Obviously, every man or woman can give in to temptation and it is not because we have made one or more small deviations during the Lent period that it becomes useless, quite the contrary as the periods go by. days and even of the different Lents that you will do throughout your life, you will gradually manage to have a better Lent and to give in less to temptation. Here are all the small or big things that should not be done during Lent:
- Eat meat on Friday
- Eating fatty or rich foods
- To drink alcohol
- To smoke
- Complain or argue
- Being lazy or inactive
- Watching inappropriate or offensive films or television programs
These things should be avoided as much as possible during Lent, obviously the goal is not to torture yourself until you end up in depression, done according to your abilities but always with the aim of improving yourself and still making yourself " a little trouble", say well go to please the Lord tonight I am not going to drink alcohol but that you cannot drink alcohol for a reason X or Y other than your will and well this little sacrifice is worthless. Conversely, if just before going to bed you want to eat a little cake and you decide to deprive yourself of it to please the Lord even though you could eat this cake and do yourself a very good deed towards God of love !
As said previously, the goal is however not to torture your body to the point of great suffering, do not put your health in danger, whether physical or mental, so deciding to only eat once every 3 days will put you at risk. health is poor and will certainly not please the Lord, prefer instead to create an effective young person who remains within your capabilities and who allows you to devote yourself to the Lord to your extent!
Finally, and this is the Ultimate advice for a good Lent, do not hesitate yes do not hesitate to go talk to a Priest and moreover the Priest of your parish if you can about the actions you wish to carry out during this Lent so that he can judge them to be good or not. Finally, we wish you a pleasant Lent in the peace of the Lord, may he strengthen you, show you mercy, grant you peace and happiness for you and those you love and may he accompany you in good times and in bad times for eternity, Amen.
If you would like to know more about the Most Holy Trinity, our blog article dedicated to the latter entitled “Understanding the Holy Trinity” should please you very much.