Why do Catholics observe Lent? | University of Portland

Why do Catholics observe Lent?

Sure, many know that it is the period of time leading up to Easter, but why do we have it?  Is it just about making things hard on ourselves before the celebration of Easter?  A period of preparation for the Easter celebration, which is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, has been a part of the practice of Christians since the late second century.  The length of this period varied early on but was proposed to be for forty days at the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.)  More than just a time to give something up, it is a time to renew one’s attentiveness to life as a disciple of Jesus.  Fasting seeks to strip away the distractions, almsgiving draws deeper attention to our relationship with our neighbors, and prayer looks toward deepening a relationship with Jesus.  This renewal of life as a disciple of Jesus is meant to prepare Christians for the fullness of life that is promised by the resurrection.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts up to the Holy Triduum which are the three days leading into Easter.