In years past it was common for Lent to be described with the images of battle. The Church viewed these 40 days as an immense army fighting day and night against their spiritual enemies.
Pope Benedict recently said, “Lent reminds us that the Christian life is a never ending combat in which the weapons of prayer, fasting and penance are used to fight against evil, selfishness, hatred and to the dying of oneself.” The entire Church is called to conversion and to follow with humility the ascetic journey of Jesus.
The Ceremonial of Bishops state that Lent is the special season for the ascent of the holy mountain of Easter. Then Lenten readings are full of journeys from Adam and Eve to Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. Lent is a holy journey in which the Catechumens mark their final day of preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation and the already baptized a time of penance in preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation for sins committed after Baptism.
So Lent for the entire Church is marked by two themes – the baptismal and the penitential. By recalling as preparing for baptism and by repentance, this season disposes us to listen to the word of God and donate of ourselves to prayer, fasting and almsgiving (acts of charity) so that we will be ready to blossom into the new life of Easter.
As St. Peter Chrysologus said “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. If we have not all three together we have nothing.”