According to Biblical tradition, Moses stayed on Mount Sinai forty days to receive the Law of the Covenant. Our Lord fasted forty days in the desert before He started His mission. Christians prepare themselves to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of our Lordís Death and Resurrection by a penitential season of forty days.
Penance is part of the Christian philosophy of life. It has to do with sin and conversion. It is the inner aversion to evil in and around us and a generous conversion in love to God which is important.
The means to achieve this inner conversion are the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, charitable works, and acts of self-denial, but above all attendance at Holy Mass daily because it is a memorial as well as a re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. What we "give up" should be related to an inner conversion to God.
Jesus came into the world to share His life with us. We should examine the priorities in our lives with His mission in mind. His mission is to bring each person to human dignity, and all people to brotherhood, leading them to the Father. He sought to do the will of His Father.
Lent is a time of instruction and listening. Faith comes by hearing, which certainly includes reading and study. It is a time of listening. The Word of God is given to us in abundance. The Gospels and Lenten readings are a rich source of faith, conversion, and turning back to a God who is already waiting and loving us. We are asked to make the World of God a judgment upon our lives and a means of personal evaluation.
But this will become fruitful only by the grace of God which we receive through Sacraments and prayer, especially through the Sacrifice of the Mass. Meditation on the Passion of Christ is a favourite means of showing our gratitude to our Lord for having suffered and died for us. The Way of the Cross should not be considered outdated. Making a Lenten Novena at least once during Lent will prove very beneficial in deepening our prayer life.
The Word of God
"We beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, ĎIn an acceptable time I have heard you; on a day of salvation I have helped you.í Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!"
(2 Cor 6:1-2)
"This, rather, is the fasting I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own."
"Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears Me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with Me. I will give the victor the right to sit with Me on My throne."
Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, during the Holy Season of Lent You call us to a closer union with Yourself. Help me to prepare to celebrate the Paschal Mystery with mind and heart renewed. Give me a spirit of loving reverence for You, our Father, and of willing service to my neighbour. As I recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, bring the image of Your Son to perfection within my soul.
This great season of grace is Your gift to Your family to renew us in spirit. Give me strength to purify my heart, to control my desires, and so to serve You in freedom. Teach me how to live in this passing world with my heart set on the world that will never end.
I ask for the grace to master my sinfulness and conquer my pride. I want to show to those in need Your goodness to me by being kind to all.
Through my observance of Lent, help me to correct my faults and raise my mind to You, and thus grow in holiness that I may deserve the reward of everlasting life.
In your mercy grant me this special favour: (Mention your request).
The days of the life-giving Death and glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Your Son, are approaching. This is the hour when He triumphed over Satanís pride, the time when we celebrate the great event of our Redemption. The Suffering and Death of Your Son brought life to the whole world, moving our hearts to praise Your glory.
The power of the Cross reveals Your judgement of this world and the kingship of Christ crucified. Father, through His love for us and through His Sufferings, Death and Resurrection, may I gain eternal life with You in heaven.