...I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search right now for answers, which could not be given you, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday, in the far future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
For the Catholic church, Lent begins today (March 9th in 2011). This is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) that provides time for preparation for Easter. Catholics may spend time involved with reflection, moderation or a spiritual discipline. Over time, the tradition of Lent has evolved and matured. In earlier eras, most Christians would prepare for Easter by fasting and praying for a period of three days. But, over time, the Lenten celebration became longer and the season became less ritualized.
The first Wednesday in Lent is known as Ash Wednesday. Lent begins this week and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, which is the Thursday before Easter. Catholics brought up within the past century were often taught as children that they should "give up something" for Lent. Children might abstain from soda or sweets during this time. However, now instead of giving something up, many Catholics tend to add a daily practice at this time.
The Catholic Church offers guidance for paritioners during Lent that asks all Catholics to fast on certain days. In the past, paritioners were asked to abstain from meat on certain days, but this is generally not longer widely practiced now. Also, at one time, paritioners would give up all dairy products for the entire 40 days of Lent.
Today, the focus for many Catholics has evolved to having a daily practice, perhaps with a focus on personsal reflection. A contemplation of gratitude for their lives, or daily prayer might be used to help develop a deeper connection with their faith.
Lent ends on Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and is on April 24, 2011.