Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Bishop William F. Medley traces a cross made of ashes on a woman’s forehead during the Ash Wednesday liturgy at St. Stephen Cathedral on Feb. 22, 2023. RILEY GREIF | WKC

Lent: A period of repentance and renewal


The sacred season of Lent holds immense significance in the Catholic faith. It is a time when believers are called to engage in acts of penance, reflection, and preparation, as they strive to strengthen their relationship with God. It is, in essence, a call to repentance and renewal.

Repentance, at its core, is an acknowledgment of one’s own shortcomings and sins, and a sincere desire to turn away from those behaviors that distance us from God. It is an integral part of the Catholic faith, as it opens the door to forgiveness, reconciliation, and ultimately, transformation. Lent provides Catholics with a focused period of forty days, mirroring the forty days Jesus spent in the desert, to reflect on their lives, repent, and grow closer to God.

During Lent, Catholics are encouraged to engage in various acts of penance. This may include fasting, which not only strengthens one’s self-discipline but also allows individuals to experience a sense of solidarity with those who live in hunger or poverty. By going without certain foods or luxuries, Catholics become more aware of their dependence on God’s grace and develop a sense of humility.

In addition to fasting, Lent also invites Catholics to engage in prayer and almsgiving. Through prayer, individuals enter into a deeper conversation with God, seeking his guidance and forgiveness. It is a time for self-examination, as believers discern areas in their lives that need repentance and ask for God’s transforming grace to heal and reshape their hearts.

Almsgiving, or acts of charity, are also key elements of Lent. It involves sharing one’s blessings with others – especially those in need. By giving of oneself, Catholics demonstrate their commitment to love and serve others, just as Jesus did. Acts of almsgiving encourage individuals to examine the ways in which they may have failed to love their neighbors and inspire them to correct those actions through repentance.

Repentance during Lent is not simply a private matter; it also involves the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance. Catholics are called to confess their sins to a priest, who, in the Person of Christ, offers absolution. Through this sacrament, believers experience the incredible gift of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Lent, therefore, is a season of deep spiritual renewal. It challenges Catholics to examine their lives, repent for their sins, and make a firm commitment to change. It is in this process of repentance that individuals experience the transforming power of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. Through repentance, Catholics grow closer to God, and their faith is strengthened.

Lent calls people to repentance by urging them to engage in acts of penance, prayer, and almsgiving. It is a time for self-reflection, repentance, and a renewed commitment to following Christ. By repenting of their sins and seeking God’s forgiveness and grace, believers experience spiritual renewal and growth. Lent is a true gift within the Catholic faith, guiding individuals towards a transformed life in Christ.

Dcn. Jay W. VanHoosier is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Owensboro. For more information visit, email [email protected] or call (270) 852-8324.

Originally printed in the February 2024 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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Publisher |  Bishop William F. Medley
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