Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. For many Christians, Lent is a time of prayer and mindfulness to the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us. The season of Lent lasts for forty days, not counting Sundays. Ash Wednesday is the beginning. Easter Sunday follows the last day of Lent. During Lent, we have meaningful dates, such as Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday (aka Maundy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These dates each mark a specific event in the life of Jesus as he neared the Crucifixion.
Over the years, Lent has been known as a time to "give up" something; usually chocolate, dessert, or something similar. For some, it is a time to create healthier habits such as giving up the elevator and taking the steps instead, giving up sugary desserts for some fresh fruit, or giving up time on the computer to take a walk. Still others opt to gain something through Lent, rather than give up something. To do this, start something new that will be helpful to your health, spirituality, or to someone else. It could be a time to make an exercise routine -- and stick to it. Or, it could be that those fruits and vegetables that have been missing from the daily diet actually find their way onto the menu. Start saying a certain prayer daily, meditating, saying the rosary everyday, or make time to read the Bible. Maybe it would be nice to volunteer at a local nursing home, visit the residents, or sign up to volunteer in a local school.
Some faiths abstain or fast on certain days during Lent. For Catholics and some others, Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstaining. Fridays are days to abstain from meat. Good Friday is a day to fast and abstain. Usually Fridays during Lent are referred to as "Fishy Fridays" as many people eat fish on these meatless days. Throughout the area, fish fries are held at many locations--usually Catholic churches or Knights of Columbus Halls.
However Lent is spent, the goal is to make it a time to recall Jesus' suffering and death on the cross. His death and resurrection was for us. He did it all to pay for our sins. Because of Him, we have a place in Heaven; if only we believe and have faith in God. As it is stated in 1 Peter 4:13, "But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly," (The New American Bible).
May Lent be a time of spiritual growth for each of us and may Easter bring us joy in the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.