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Sources: History USCathBishops Catholic.org CatholicsOnline Catholic.com

Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. In lent, much popular emphasis is placed on giving up things and fasting; a saying goes, "If you gave something up for the Lord, tough it out. Don't act like a Pharisee looking for a loophole." Rather, place your emphasis on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution. Don't try to look or seem "sacrificial".

In his Lenten message for 2014, Pope Francis takes inspiration from the words of St. Paul (Cor 8:9), and asks us to contemplate Paul's invitation to live a life of evangelical poverty... taking up habits that are directed to helping and caring for others; and "lifting up" our brothers and sisters who are in need through prayer and devotion.

The key to fruitful observance of (lenten) practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ. Catholics must move beyond giving up candy to giving up some habit of sin that marks and defeats their lives.

o Three Pillars of Lent

o Some Thoughts