LENT HAS MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS that aren’t always immediately perceptible. The Church has traditionally divided this holy season into two parts to help us focus on two separate spiritual realities.
The first begins on Ash Wednesday, called in the liturgy “the beginning of the fasting days,” and ends on the Saturday before the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The second, known as Passiontide, is an anticipated development of the Paschal drama, considering the interior sufferings of Christ more than the feelings of penitents and catechumens.
In other words, the first half of Lent is focused on “us,” our sinfulness and need for repentance, helping us to focus on interior renewal, preparing our hearts to receive the light of Christ into our lives. The second half of Lent turns our gaze especially onto the suffering Christ. It helps us to understand the results of our sins and the amazing love Jesus has for us, and presents an opportunity to meditate more specifically on the Passion of Christ.
The Church in her wisdom understands the need to give us specific spiritual themes to mediate on during Lent, gradually preparing our hearts for the great feast of Easter, when Jesus Christ conquered sin and death and opened to us the gates of Heaven.
Philip Kosloski, Did you know Lent is traditionally divided into two parts?
Original in Aleteia.org, March 30, 2019. Used with permission