Lent is the season before Easter, lasting from Ash Wednesday until the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday which begins the Easter Triduum.  It is a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, penitence, conversion, and simplicity.  It is a time to confess how far we have strayed from a loving obedience to the will of God.  It is a time to remember that we are weak and helpless apart from the saving mercies of the Lord.  And it is a call to remember the high cost of that love, made evident in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.  Lent can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our service to him.  We should remember that Lent is a joyful march toward Easter, and that all rituals and penitential practices are not done mournfully, but are done with the risen Christ in mind and heart.