No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Lent has begun. During this part of the liturgical year we prepare ourselves for Easter through reflection, repentance, prayer and conversion. Conversion of our hearts away from sin and to God. Marcel LeJeune has a nice FAQ over on the Aggie Catholic blog summarizing the Lenten season.
Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent. These acts of penance increase the self-discipline needed toward holiness and bring us closer to God.
Lent is a season full of tradition and a rich liturgical calendar. Important dates include Ash Wednesday, the Sundays of Lent, Feast of St. Patrick, Feast of St. Joseph, The Annunciation of the Lord, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter. Many parishes also offer a wide variety of special programs and activities.
Every day in Lent is important but a few are extra important to me: Ash Wednesday because it marks the beginning, Holy Thursday because it remembers the last supper from which Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Communion, Good Friday because it remembers the high price paid for our salvation and of course, the resurrection of our Lord on Easter.
This year I also have a special interest in the Easter Vigil Mass during which the Catechumens from my RCIA class will be baptized and confirmed. After Easter these folks, together with those of us who were recently confirmed, will again meet for several weeks of mystagogia. It is a special time of reflection on our journey and sending as fully active and participating members of the Catholic Church. I am looking forward to it.