What is Lent and Why Do We Celebrate It?

When does Lent begin and end?

Lent is a liturgical season that focuses on the three spiritual pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This 40-day journey, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Holy Week, is a time for sacrifice and spiritual reflection preparing us for the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

One simple way to enhance your Lenten experience is to participate in the CRS Rice Bowl program. During Lent, Catholic families across the United States use a Rice Bowl—a small cardboard box—to collect alms. Each Rice Bowl also comes with a calendar that guides families through the 40 days of Lent with activities, reflections, recipes and stories.

What is the meaning of Lent?

As Catholics, the spiritual pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving guide us in daily reflection on our own lives as we strive to deepen our relationship with God and neighbor—no matter where in the world that neighbor may live. Lent is a time of personal and spiritual growth, a time to look outward and inward. It is a journey in mercy.

How to Fast for Lent

The Catechism invites Catholics ages 18 to 59 to abstain from meat and to fast during Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, as well as abstain from meat on the Fridays during Lent. Preparing meatless meals—like the ones we collect from countries around the world—is a great Lenten activity for families, offering an experience of global solidarity. In addition to meatless Fridays, Catholics are also invited to offer daily sacrifices. By giving up little things—like coffee or candy—we make room for God to act in our lives in new ways, and we have the opportunity to meatless meals to those most in need.

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