Lent, as a forty day preparation for Easter is first mentioned as an established practice in the decrees of the Council of Nice, 325. The sacred season calls us to fast, prayer and almsgiving.
Since the Second Vatican Council the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults serves as a liturgical and catechetical preparation for those entering into full communion with the Church. For all believers it is a period offering extraordinary opportunities for spiritual growth.
There is, of course the popular association of Lent with personal sacrifice or “giving up” of something good and ordinarily attractive. There is also a growing emphasis on increasing our works of charity and good deeds.
The Mass prayers of Lent are especially rich and date back to the earliest days of the Season. Might we turn to them, therefore as a prayerful opportunity to seek from God that which Lent should mean for us. For example: Grant, O Lord:
… that as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of selfrestraint
... look with compassion on our weakness and ensure us your protection
… that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ.
The petitions each day are many and profound. In making a special effort to arrive for Mass a little earlier during Lent, we might open the missalette to the Collect, the Prayer over the gifts or to the Prayer after Communion to enrich our personal prayer during that Mass and during the week that follows.
Edwin, Cardinal O’Brien
(February 14, 2018)