How to practice lent

Lent is our time of preparation.

During these 40 days, we ponder what it means to “give up, take up and lift up.” Using the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we deepen our relationship with Christ and discern where God is working in our lives.

So, what is Lent? In this first episode of What is Lent?, Cardinal Timothy Dolan shares some reflections.

As we begin our Lenten journey, we reflect on those spiritual pillars that will help bring us into a deeper relationship with God.


We pray for others in the global church. We reflect on what type of person God calls us to be, and we ask for his guidance in living up to our potential. There are many ways to pray, and many individuals and communities that need our prayers.

In this episode of What is Lent?, Father James Martin, SJ shares his reflections on Lent as a time of prayer.


We fast, or give things up, as a reminder to remove things in our lives that get in the way of our relationship with God. When we feel hungry or choose not to eat the things we like, we are reminded that everything we have is a gift from God. Our fasting also reminds us of those who do not have enough food, who experience hunger without a choice. God calls each of us to care for those who are in need. Fasting, as a pillar of Lent and vital component of the Christian life, is something that deserves reflection.

In this episode of What is Lent?, Christopher West shares his reflections on how Lent is a time of fasting to prepare us for the feast of heaven.


We give alms with a spirit of generosity to our brothers and sisters in need, honoring Jesus’ call to serve our neighbors. This Lent, through our sacrifices, we can empower and transform the lives of our brothers and sisters in need.

In this episode of What is Lent?, CRS staffer Thomas Awiapo shares his own story of how what we give up for Lent changed his life.


As Pope Francis reminds us, we are called to encounter those on the margins, to reach out to our brothers and sisters no matter where they live — and to allow them to touch our lives as well.

Listen to Archbishop José Gomez share his reflections on what solidarity means to him.


Pope Francis writes in Misericordiae Vultus—the papal bull that announced this Jubilee Year of Mercy— that he desires that Christian people everywhere more deeply reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The pope views this year as an opportunity to “reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.” He challenges us to “enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.”

In this episode, Kerry Weber of America Magazine encourages us to reflect on the role mercy can play in our own Lenten practices. (Find more resource to integrate the Year of Mercy into your Lenten journey here.)


Our Lenten practice requires self-discipline. As Dr. Carolyn Woo reminds us, without practice, we can never hope to improve ourselves — whether we’re learning to play the piano, or trying to go deeper in our spiritual lives.

Want more? Once a week during Lent:

  1. Read the Stories of Hope and learn how you are making a difference through CRS.
  2. Prepare and share simple meatless meals using the CRS Rice Bowl recipes.
  3. Put your Lenten offerings into your CRS Rice Bowl. You may also return your gift online.


Have more questions about Lent? Find answers here.