In the days of the early Church, baptisms of new converts and their families would happen on Easter Day, appropriately. Baptism, of course, is the sacrament of new life. Those who were to be baptized would have been catechized pretty thoroughly, given that they were coming out of a pagan worldview — for months and, sometimes, years. The forty days before Easter was a time of fasting and penitence in preparation for this baptism.

Pretty soon in the history of the Church, the church members who were already baptized began joining the new converts in their fasting and penitence. These forty days before Easter became what we now recognize as Lent and it was officially recognized by the undivided Church at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD (the same Council that gave us the Nicene Creed that we say every Sunday).

Many languages have different words for the season, but the English word “Lent” is derived from the Old English word “lencten”, meaning “springtime” or “spring season”. Lent is, therefore, the Spring fast. In traditions that observe Lent (such as the Anglican Communion), it is customary to engage in fasting, penitence, prayer, and self-denial. The point of these practices is not outward piety or the constraint of conscience but an opportunity to enter into the Christian story at the time of Our Lord’s temptation and Passion. It is our hope that, as you do so, you will grow closer to God and understand the Good News of His Gospel all the more powerfully.