What is the Purpose of Lent?
What is the purpose of Lent? Lent is not simply a way to renew your commitment to a New Year’s resolution or jump start your diet. It’s much more than a tradition or ritual. Lent should be a time of spiritual renewal and purification that ultimately leads us to Christ.
It’s easy to get caught up in the goals that we have set for ourselves during Lent and to become fixated on the results that we desire, but we must remember that if we have not grown deeper in love with the Lord, our accomplishments are in vain.
The 3 Pillars that Help Us Discover the Purpose of Lent
In his message for Lent 2018, His Holiness Pope Francis describes “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting” found in the Lenten season.
Almsgiving – Almsgiving “sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister.” We give alms to help God’s poor and support the good works of the Church.
Fasting – Through fasting, Pope Francis explains that we find our “spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
Prayer – By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. In Bishop Crosby’s Lenten Message from 2017, we are encouraged to “we seek time to pray more – alone and with others. We might choose to read something that will nourish our spiritual life and lead us to more focused personal prayer. We might join our Parish community on Friday evenings for the Stations of the Cross; or we might decide to pray the Rosary as a family on certain evenings during the Lenten season.”
Keeping our eyes fixed on Christ will help us stay strong in our Lenten sacrifices and offerings. When we purposefully fast, give alms, and pray with a heart that desires to know Jesus and serve Him, our actions move beyond requirements and rules. It is this type of Lent that will lead to a joyous Easter morning and a true celebration of the Risen Lord.