The word “lent” is derived from the Old English term, “lencten” which means “springtime”. It’s a period of 40 days (including 6 Sundays) which lasts from Ash Wednesday to the Vespers of Holy Saturday.
Lent is typically seen as a time for Catholics to give up something they enjoy for 40 days. You can read many articles on the Internet about how people are suffering because they’re giving up chocolate or something along those lines. The attitude is, “oh no, another 40 days of pain because I have to make a sacrifice”. I also found many blogs where Protestants attack the idea of us giving up food and of course they misquote the Bible to prove their point. They don’t understand Lent either.
The purpose of this liturgical season is penance. Jesus fasted for 40 days, so we fast for the same period while waiting to celebrate His resurrection on Easter. Many Catholics focus on themselves during Lent. While reflecting on our spiritual life is important, this should also be a time to remember the holy souls in Purgatory.
What Can I Do? There are many ways to help the suffering souls during Lent. Some of the things that you can do are:
- offer a mass for them
- pray the rosary or the way of the cross to release them Purgatory
- acts of charity on their behalf
- offer all of your indulgences to them through the Heroic Act
Being human, you may fail to fulfill your Lenten goals. If you do, remember that God is merciful. When you fail, don’t beat yourself up, pick yourself up and continue the battle.