Year of Faith: Ash Wednesday/Lent
Ash Wednesday is not only the first day of Lent, it is a special day all its own. It is one of two days, the other being Good Friday, when fasting is prescribed. The purpose of fasting is to deepen our prayer life, strengthen our solidarity with the poor and intensify our hunger for God.
“Lent” comes from an old Teutonic word meaning “springtime.” In Latin, this season is called quadragesima and in Spanish, cuaresma, meaning “40 days.”
The Lenten season includes 40 days of prayer, penance and almsgiving (not counting the Sundays of Lent). The purpose of Lent is to prepare catechumens, as well as the baptized, to celebrate the paschal mystery at Easter.