Recalling and preparing for baptism is the twofold character of Lent. There are many ways to do both. The Church shapes ways of living Lent principally by liturgies of word--both personal praying with it and the Liturgy of the Hours--and eucharist. To enhance experiences of Lent the Church also recommends the three pillars of Lent: prayer; fasting; and almsgiving.
Pope Benedict invited Catholics to consider fasting, which often gets minimal attention and is misunderstood. In his annual Lenten Message the pope reflected on fasting through Jesus' experience of it.
Regarding its personal aspect Pope Benedict wrote, "Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word."
Regarding its social aspect--Lent is both personal and social--the pope mentioned that "fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live."
Pope Benedict's Lenten Message is brief. It offers a unified window on the Paschal Mystery, of which Lent is an integral part.
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