The Season of Lent began in the early Church as a time for catechumens to begin the intensive spiritual preparation necessary to receive the Sacraments of Initiation (baptism, confirmation and Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil. The catechumen may have already been going through formation for a number of years and this was the final preparation before becoming a Catholic.
Lent gradually became a time for all Christians to reflect on their baptismal promises and to see how well he or she was living them out in daily life. The disciplines of fasting, prayer and almsgiving became a way to deny oneself, focus on spiritual things and help the needy and the poor. With the restoration of the catechumenate (now known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) after the Second Vatican Council, we once again emphasize the baptismal nature of the Season of Lent.
Perhaps a simple exercise for all of us during this Lent is to reflect upon the question asked at every baptism: “Do you accept responsibility for raising your child in the practice of the faith, by loving God and our neighbor?” Of course, for parents this a grave responsibility but for us who are adults we can ask the same question regarding ourselves. “Are we practicing our faith? Are we loving God and our neighbor?” These are the most basic things we do as baptized Christians? How would you answer those questions?
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