US Catholic Bishops Remind Us of the Real Purpose of Lent

Today marks the first day of Lent for Christians across the globe—a time of prayer and preparation for the Easter season.

In our fast-paced world full of secular distractions and heated debates, the United States Catholic Bishops remind us that Lent is a time to return our hearts and minds to Christ and to remember our duty to love our brothers and sisters.

During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy that “remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit.”

Take inspiration for your Lenten journey from prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting is 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.

As Christians we are reminded of Jesus’ call to prayer, fasting, and alms-giving in order to shape our lives more like His. This Lent, more than challenging ourselves to do something difficult, USCCB ask us to do something that strengthens our relationship with Christ—not to just go to extra services but to go with the intent of living the scriptures we hear, not to give up a food to lose weight but to give up an activity that keeps us from being present to those around us, and not to give spare change but to change how we live our lives so we can be a blessing to others.

This Lent, let us make a conscious effort to purify our lives and prepare our hearts to experience the full joy of Christ this Easter.