Welcome to the season of Lent my dear friends. Lent as we know, is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. It is a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord's Resurrection at Easter, as the Church reminds us to change our ways, return to the Lord and reconcile with Him. This is the reason why Jesus told us in today’s gospel reading that, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” With these words of Jesus in today’s gospel reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Mark, chapter 1, verse 12 to 15, we are urged to fully embrace the sentiments of this season by repenting from our sins, as we recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. In the season of Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment to God, while the unbaptized prepare to be baptized in the Catholic Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period in which they learn about God, the teachings of Christ and the Catholic faith as they discern and declare their desire to become Catholics.

So in Lent, the Church teaches us to seek the Lord more in prayer by reading the Sacred Scripture; to serve the Lord better by giving alms; and to practice self-control and discipline through fasting. In Prayer, God invites us into a relationship with Him that is both personal and communal. He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh. Prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us. Therefore, prayer is not merely an exchange of words, but it engages the whole person in a relationship with God the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. So this Lenten season participate actively and devoutly in Mass, in the Stations of the Cross, in the rosary and other devotions.

Almsgiving is the foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on "almsgiving," which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2462). In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God's gifts—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.

Fasting, is abstinence from food or drink or both for religious or ethical purposes. But for us Catholic Christians, fasting is the only means by which man recovers his true spiritual nature. This is why Christian fasting is not concerned with losing weight, but a matter of prayer and the spirit as it calls us to practice self-discipline. Lenten fast permits us to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.

My brothers and sisters, we are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart and spirit, as we seek to follow Christ's will more faithfully. Hence, let us challenge ourselves this Lenten Season by changing the way we think and act, by not ignoring the Gospel but by accepting it, and lastly, by using the practices of prayer, fasting and Almsgiving to wholeheartedly return to the Lord and reconcile ourselves to Him.