Lent is the season in which we “prepare with joy for the paschal feast,” with minds and hearts renewed. In Lent, the community of faith is blessed with a spirit of loving reverence for God and of willing service to neighbour. The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes before the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday.
“The liturgy of Lent is marked by two closely related themes, the baptismal and the penitential. It is a time of purification and enlightenment for the elect, those preparing to receive the sacraments of Easter initiation. In this they are helped by the local Church, the whole community of the faithful, who recall their own baptism and prepare for its renewal. Both the elect and the local community join together in a spirit of repentance and conversion of heart, making Lent a time of spiritual recollection for the whole Church as it prepares for the celebration of Easter. Therefore Lent is a time for more intense prayer and reflection and for particular attention to the word of God. This takes place above all in the Sunday eucharist. Lenten penance is not “only inward and individual, but also outward and social.” Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and other works of charity are the traditional ways of deepening conversion to Christ.
- From The General Introduction to the Roman Missal