The Season of Lent
Lent forms part of the liturgical calendar in both the Western and Eastern Churches. Like other seasons and celebrations within the church year, Lent serves to relive part of the earthly life of Jesus.
Lent is a forty day period before Easter, not taking in to account Sundays in the calculations. This year it begins on March 8th and lasts until April 22nd.
In the first three centuries this period, which was a time of fasting, did not normally exceed 2 or 3 days (to commemorate the sufferings of Jesus within the tomb). The first mention of a period of forty days (remembering Jesus' forty days in the wilderness) dates from around AD 325, although until a much later date (possibly AD 800) the period was calculated differently in different churches.
In the early centuries, there was very strict observance of Lent, with only one meal allowed per day - and meat forbidden. In the West this strict observance was gradually relaxed until the Roman Catholic Church in 1966 officially declared that fasting should be restricted to the first day of Lent and Good Friday.
Lent is very definitely a season of reflection, leading up to Easter. A time to consider the significance of the life of Jesus. A time to consider the weight of the mission which He carried upon His shoulders, that led him to spend those 40 days in the wilderness, a mission which ultimately led Him to give his life for us.