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Word of the Week: What is the meaning of "Lent?"
March 7, 2012

The word Lent, denoting the 40 days' fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. It has also been used to translate the more significant Latin term quadragesima meaning the "forty days," or more literally the "fortieth day."

Beyond the literal definition, the three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.

The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

Source: USCCB, newadvent.org
By Jonah Dycus
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Tags: Lent, prayer, fasting, almsgiving

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