Electronic Prayer Book

The Spiritual Meaning of the Days of Lent

4.1 First Sunday In Lent

Fear and gloom have no place in our Christian life. Lent is a season of holy joy through loving obedience. In a Lenten sermon, Pope St. Leo said:

“I preach to you the holiest and greatest of festivals. Although there is no season which is not full of divine gifts, yet at this time the minds of all should be urged towards spiritual progress, that being cleansed in heart and body, we may celebrate that mystery which excels all others: the Passion of the Lord.

Since the frailty of the body leads to relaxation of discipline, the hearts of men become defiled by the dust of worldly things. Hence this most wholesome, divinely appointed institution provides that, in order to restore the purity of our minds, we should be corrected by the discipline of these forty days. Therefore, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, that the soul, which should govern the body, may uphold the dignity of its rule.

We shall be justly blamed by unbelievers if the conduct of those who keep the fast is not in accordance with a right spirit. Our fasting does not consist merely in abstinence from food; it will do us no good to deprive the body of food if the mind be not recalled from. wickedness.

The New Testament tells us that “faith without works is dead.” Today we pray that “we may hold fast by good works that which we would obtain by abstinence.” Holy Church expects us to perform good works at all seasons, that the benefit of the Lenten fast may ever be our “recall from wickedness.”