Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday
Lent lasts 40 days and ends at Easter. It is a "spring cleaning of our lives" involving repentance, renewal of faith, sacrifice, humility, and reflection.
"Dust you are and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19). Using ashes as a sign of repentance is an ancient practice, often mentioned in the Bible (e.g., Jonah 3:5-9; Job 42:6; Jeremiah 6:26; Matthew 11:21). Ashes are a symbol of our need to repent, confess our sins, and return to God. Even in this ashen mark of death, we anticipate the new life of Easter. Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, often referred to as "fat Tuesday" by society, is a day to feast and celebrate the upcoming Lenten Season.
The three main practices of Lent include fasting, praying, and giving.
When we fast, we go without something (not necessarily food), which reminds us of our dependence on God and of Jesus' sacrifice for us.
We pray for others and our world; and for ourselves, we ask for forgiveness and to try to understand what we need to do to be closer to God.
Giving of time, money, and talent lets us share the blessings God has given to us to make the world a better place. Volunteering and "random acts of kindness" are ways to give.
Holy Week includes Easter Sunday and the days leading up to it: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil (Saturday).
Through our Lenten journey, we become more mindful, we refresh our spirit, and we get rid what is unnecessary. At the end of Lent, we hope to greet Easter with a renewed sense of joy in our hearts.