Lent is a helpful tradition that especially provides opportunity for confession. It is a long-practiced church tradition of setting aside the 40 days prior to Easter as a form of preparation and anticipation. Often it is accompanied by fasting or other special commitments to help the individual focus on the season.
Confession is a significant part of Lent, especially towards the beginning of the 40 days. Ash Wednesday (today – 2/3/22) is traditionally held as a reminder of human frailty. In liturgical traditions, a special service is held where the attendees are marked with ashes, often in the shape of a cross on their forehead. The ashes echo the words of Genesis 3:19. These words were spoken as a consequence of Adam and Eve’s first sin in the Garden of Eden.
By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Lent begins, therefore, with a reminder of one’s sinfulness and need of repentance. Such a reminder leads one to self-evaluate and confess such sins and failures in their own life.
At the same time, this confession is balanced with the hope and anticipation of Easter and the cross. For in the message of Easter, focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus, one finds the joy and confidence of forgiveness.
In the cross of Jesus we see that we are more sinful than we ever dare to admit, but at the same time, we see that we are more loved than we could ever dare to hope
This is the balanced joy of Lent. On the one hand, the grief of confession is met with the joy of forgiveness; on the other hand, the acceptance of forgiveness is matched with the acknowledgement of failure. Both truths, our failure and Jesus’ forgiveness, are equally true and equally important in the Gospel.
It is never too late to start Lent. Even if you are reading this just a week away from Easter, decide how you can etch some time into the coming days to humbly prepare and anticipate the important message that Easter tells. Perhaps that might mean giving something up (a fast of some sort), or it could mean adding something (a particular set of readings, devotions or prayers).