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Definition:   A forty-day period of abstinence, prayer and self-reflection that precedes Easter in western Christianity. In Catholicism, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Ashes are received on the forehead to symbolize our frail humanity and as a mark of penance. The period of Lent is a time to renew the baptismal commitment (made by the parents and godparents on behalf of an infant) to follow Jesus.

Discussion: For the Catholic, Lent is a vivid picture of salvation – an ongoing process of good deeds, penance, self-denial and sacraments that precede Easter. Protestants would be well advised to celebrate Lent during the forty days after Easter, as a symbol of gratitude for the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Self-denial, fasting, penance, and ashes contribute nothing to our salvation, nor do they contribute toward lasting self-control (Col. 2:23).

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