Lent a season of repentance and faith

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    By SARALEE HUNTSMAN

    After the partying and fun of Mardi Gras are over, Catholics will begin a time of sacrifice and preparation known as Lent.

    Father James Blaine of the St. Peters Catholic Church in American Fork said Lent was originally the last instruction period for adults who were to be baptized on Easter Sunday.

    “Lent is now a time for all of the faithful to prepare for the celebration of Easter along with those who are preparing to be baptized,” Blaine said.

    The Lent season lasts 40 days. The number 40 is symbolic in the scriptures. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and Jesus was with the apostles in Jerusalem for 40 days before ascending into heaven.

    “Lent is a time of prayer, a deepening of your faith and repentance for your sins,” said Father Walter Riendeau, pastor of St. Andres parish in Pleasant Grove. “We are living out our baptismal grace. Lent is a time of spiritual purification. Lent comes from a word that means spring.”

    Ron Krapfl, father of two BYU students and devout Catholic said, “It’s a time where you make an inventory of your spiritual life and try to work on the part of your life that has problems.”

    Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and Catholics participate in a fast from meat and snacking between meals. They also cut down the quantity of food to two meals that day.

    On Ash Wednesday, Catholics have the ashes from burnt palms applied to their foreheads in the shape of a cross for remembrance.

    During Lent, Catholics give up something in their lives they feel needs improvement. Some Catholics will give up watching television, smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages or over-eating.

    “It is a time of sacrifice as a means of doing penance,” Krapfl said.

    Father Blaine said, “We encourage confessions and attending mass outside of Sunday during Lent.”

    One of the more significant days during Lent is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. This day is in commemoration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

    The Thursday before Easter, known as Holy Thursday, is also significant. Blaine said on Holy Thursday they have a special service in which the pastor washes the feet of selected people from the parish just as Christ washed the feet of his apostles at the last supper.

    Easter Vigil, held the night before Easter, concludes Lent. This is the time when new converts are received into the church by baptism. Baptism is the culmination of a one-year period of instruction about the basic doctrines of the Catholic church.

    While Mardi Gras, literally `Fat Tuesday’, is celebrated by only some Catholics, Lent is a church-wide event.

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