Lent, in some Christian denominations, is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where according to the Bible he endured temptation by Satan.
So I've decided to observe Lent this year. (Those of you who know me or read my notes know that I've also decided to start observing the Twelve Days of Christmas.) I think I'm making a move towards more liturgical observations. I'm not Catholic, nor am I trying to be, I just think that Christians today in general don't give enough weight to God in their lives. It's not about a religious show either. Religion =/= faith. It's about getting closer to God and spending more time in the Scriptures and in prayer. I really legitimately want to go deeper in my faith.
The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial—for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Western Christianity (with the exception of the Archdiocese of Milan which follows the Ambrosian Rite), Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes on Holy Saturday. The six Sundays in Lent are not counted among the forty days because each Sunday represents a "mini-Easter", a celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death.
I'm going to say a special prayer everyday for a special subject. Yesterday was for general blessing and insight as I delve into my first real Lent, and that I might reach my ultimate goal of getting closer to the Lord. Today will be about abortion, and tomorrow will likely be about the sad state of our nation's economy. Even if you don't do anything else for Lent, you should definitely pray.
Penance is not about perverted self-injury as punishment for sins, it is more about prayer for and genuine repentance from your sins. Penance during Lent and other such seasons is usually practiced through self-denial, voluntary celibacy, etc. I'll be denying myself candy (see below) and celibacy won't be an issue for me, as I am an unmarried Christian and therefore can't have sex outside of marriage anyway. But I will pray for my sins and try not to commit anymore during Lent. I'll be behaving well. :D
I'm also going to do more good deeds. It doesn't hurt to just be nicer to people in general, and I'm going to donate a couple dollars here and there (which is all I can afford - but that's OK - Mark 12:41-43) to charities and church. I'm also going to donate 12 inches of my hair to Locks of Love sometime before Easter.
I'm giving up candy for Lent, as some of you may have seen in my recent status update to that effect. I will not eat candy until after church on Easter Sunday. I'm also going to make every attempt to complete a 24-hour fast on Holy Saturday. I've tried a few times in the past to pull a 24-hour fast, but I've only made it once. It's still worth a try, and I'm going to try really hard.