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Lent: A Sense of the Season

The word Lent means springtime. This word comes from the same root as lengthen. Daytime lengthens during Lent. The northern hemisphere turns toward the sun, the source of life, and winter turns into spring. In Hebrew, the word for repentance is the same as the word that means to turn, like the turning of the earth to the sun, like the turning of the soil before planting.

“Even now, says the Lord, turn to me.” (Joel 2:12) The word sin means separation. We are called to turn from our separate selves, from our sin, to come together in community. Self-denial is the way we express our repentance. In the lengthening brightness from Ash Wednesday until Holy Thursday afternoon, our holy Lent, we turn to God as our source of life.

Through the Lenten exercise of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we spring-clean our lives, sharpen our senses, put tomorrow in its place and treasure the day at hand.

Why are there forty days in Lent? It took forty days for sinfulness to drown in the flood before a new creation could inherit the earth. It took forty years for the generation of slaves to die before the freeborn could enter the promised land. For forty days Moses and Elijah and Jesus fasted and prayed to prepare themselves for a life’s work. 

We keep Lent together. We put aside our business-as-usual to support each other in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We turn to God to enlighten us and purify us throughout the lengthening brightness of our holy season of Lent. 

Copyright © 1997, Archdiocese of Chicago. Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago IL 60622-1101; 1800-933-1800. Text by Peter Mazar. 

(rice bowls and Lenten reflection material are available in the vestibule, click here for traditional Lenten practices)

Lenten Reflections


The Parish and School community at St. Perpetua in Lafayette, California, actively welcomes all who seek contemporary spiritual growth, who thrive in a warm and friendly environment, who find meaning in compassionate and caring outreach to others, and who enjoy celebrating the love of Christ present at our masses and our many social activities.