In this video from Ascension Presents, Fr. Mike Schmitz explains the origins of Lent. It is a time of preparation, and testing, and training. Just as Jesus spent 40 days in the desert preparing for his ministry, we spend 40 days engaging in battle. Where are ashes in the bible? All over the place. In the Old Testament, ashes were a sign of repentance. What about no meat on Fridays? Jesus died on Friday and during Lent we abstain from “feasting” as a practice of mourning and recognizing Christ sacrifice.
These are practices Catholics find helpful in their personal spiritual journeys. Jesus is the one who gets us to heaven. When we practice self control and discipline we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and try to give up what we will so we are more open to do the will of the Father. “We try to respond with love to the God who is love.”