Lent is a liturgical season within the Catholic Church that takes place over forty days
beginning on Ash Wednesday and runs through to Holy Thursday; observed through fasting, prayer and charitable acts. The liturgical colour for the season, which this year starts on February 26, is violet.
Lent culminates in the Easter weekend during which the Church remembers the
persecution, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible details
in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John how He laid down His life for our
redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. By shedding His blood on the cross, He overcame death and guaranteed us eternal life if we accept Him as our Lord and Saviour.
Growing up, I looked forward to getting the sign of the cross drawn on my face by our parish priest with ashes, sadly no meat on Fridays and a long four-day weekend to savour at Easter, which mostly coincided with the school holidays. As an adult, this juvenile outlook changed and especially after the start of my relationship with God. The forty days of fasting gained deeper, significant meaning. They became an opportunity for me to rejuvenate that special bond. I became more in awe of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross to guarantee us eternal life.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights
before He began His ministry on earth. This test is also closely associated with the
Lenten period. It is an honour for faithful to recognise and remember these tests that
Christ underwent and draw strength for the tough periods in their lives. In reverence
of God’s endless mercy and favour and Christ’s sacrifice, it is now a tradition that
Catholic faithful – and other Christians – fast from certain foods.
I fasted by watching what I said a few years back and was immensely proud of myself to get through a forty-day word fast during the 2016 Lenten period. I must admit that subsequent efforts have not been as successful but I have always observed Lent by abstaining from what the Holy Spirit led me to during my prayer and devotional time.
Catholic Church teachings advocate for fasting and abstaining from certain foods. It
is normal to find Catholic households that do not partake in meat during Lent, while
others do not eat meat on all Fridays during Lent. Catholic teachings aver that those
aged 14 years and above abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all
other Fridays during the Lenten period. The idea of giving up the excesses of food
during the Lenten period
Fasting is a personal decision, in most cases, based on one’s relationship with God.
Hence, fasts during Lent can range from abstinence from sex, social media, television
and other media, solitude and entertainment. It is ideally a matter of one giving up a
thing, food or habit in order to deny himself or herself and meet God on a new level. The modern, digital world we now live in is so dynamic that fasting can take vast
dimensions for individuals and groups of individuals.
The idea of fasting can, therefore, take on various forms for each one of us. Perhaps you are thinking of going further than abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. I encourage you to. Trust God to reveal what He requires you to deny yourself this Lent. Obey and observe how your obedience will produce good fruit in your life.