The season of prepares one for Easter, the greatest feast of the Liturgical Year. The first Christian communities organised all their celebrations around the main feast of the Easter. Slowly, over the years, it was felt that the celebration of Easter had to be organized in a very special manner, by setting aside a few days of prayer and fasting as an immediate preparation for such an important feast. It was at the Easter Vigil that the Catechumens received the sacraments of Christian Initiation and the Christian community joined them during those days of preparation. Eventually the time of preparation was prolonged until it reached the symbolic “40 days” recalling the 40 days in the Wilderness of Jesus Christ.
Both catechumens and baptized Christians were invited to live this time of spiritual renewal. For the catechumens it was a way of preparing for baptism, while for others it was an opportunity to recommit themselves to life in Christ. Later the so-called “penitents” were invited to make the most of this time of Lent in order to repent of their grave sins and to seek reconciliation with God and with the Church
Today, Lent prepares the catechumens for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery by the various stages of Christian Initiation culminating at the Easter Vigil. Lent also prepares the faithful, who are already baptized, by leading them to a deeper understanding of their baptismal identity and by doing penance.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes and ends on Holy Thursday afternoon. On Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Christians begin Holy Week which ends with the celebration of Easter Triduum, the crowning of the whole season of Lent and the core of the Christian Faith.
What reasons do you have for celebrating Easter?