It is hard to believe that we just finished celebrating Christmas and we are on the brink of Lent. For most of us this no doubt surfaces a lot of negativity. This is not a happy time. We associate Lent with doing penance, fasting, giving up little treasures like not eating candy, not dancing and countless other penances. The intent of all this is good but I’m not sure it adequately embraces the true purpose of Lent.
Lent has its beginnings in the early Church, as part of the immediate preparation for catechumens (people preparing for baptism), they would spend time on retreat. This included some concentrated time to reflect, pray and discern. This would normally have involved the catechumens and their sponsors, but as time went on, the entire community would join in the retreat to prepare themselves for Easter and to renew their baptismal commitment. This is the true meaning and purpose of Lent.