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Catechism of the Catholic Church

Small Red Jerusalem Cross Lent Defined

Glossary: "LENT: The liturgical season of forty days which begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery (Easter Triduum). Lent is the primary penitential season in the Church's liturgical year, reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer (540, 1095, 1438)."
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary

Small Red Jerusalem Cross Jesus prays, fasts, and overcomes temptation in the desert: "By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert."

In sections teaching us more thoroughly about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Catechism includes several paragraphs focusing upon Jesus' temptations. The Lenten Season recalls His forty days in the desert in prayer and fasting, conquering the devil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) ¶ 540 explains:

By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.

CCC ¶ 538 recalls how Christ was driven into the desert "by the Spirit" just after His Baptism by Saint John the Baptist. He fasts for forty days and overcomes the temptations of the devil, remaining true to His Holy Father in Heaven. ¶ 538 also notes how the Israelites were tested in the desert, with Jesus' triumph reversing their weaknesses:

Jesus' Temptations

538 The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him.[ ] At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him "until an opportune time."[ ]

— Catechism of the Catholic Church 538

Note that it is the Holy Spirit which leads Him on His Journey, how Holy Angels minister to Him, and how it is in response to His Baptism. His Baptism, of course, saw all three Persons of the Holy Trinity in action, with God the Father declaring Jesus to be His Son, and for us to listen to Him. It is then in response to the Spirit that Jesus fasts and prays in the desert, and loyalty to the Father that He demonstrates.

CCC ¶ 539 focuses on how Jesus demonstrates obedience to the Father, and how the resulting conquering of the devil anticipates the Triumph of Jesus' Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

539 The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel's vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God's Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil's conqueror: he "binds the strong man" to take back his plunder.[ ] Jesus' victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father.

— Catechism of the Catholic Church 539

Recall how the Triumph of Jesus' Passion, Death, and Resurrection also ushered in a new age, in which the previous ruler of the world, the devil, has been overthrown and sinners are saved and invited to Eternal Life.

CCC ¶ 540 itself focuses upon the Son of God as Messiah, and how Jesus' forty days in the desert help illustrate the true Messianic Nature of Jesus Christ. He is Messiah and High Priest able to sympathize with our human weaknesses, True God and True Man, tested in every way but without sinning:

540 Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him.[ ] This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning."[ ] By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.

— Catechism of the Catholic Church 540

Small Red Jerusalem Cross Lent and Easter Vigil are times for the Church to re-read and re-live the events of Salvation History

CCC ¶1095 points out how Advent and Lent, including the Easter Vigil, are special times during which to re-read and re-live "the great events of salvation history in the 'today' of her liturgy"

1095 For this reason the Church, especially during Advent and Lent and above all at the Easter Vigil, re-reads and re-lives the great events of salvation history in the "today" of her liturgy. But this also demands that catechesis help the faithful to open themselves to this spiritual understanding of the economy of salvation as the Church's liturgy reveals it and enables us to live it.

— Catechism of the Catholic Church 1095

Small Red Jerusalem Cross Season of Penance

CCC ¶1438 highlights Lent as a Season of Penance, along with highlighting Fridays as a Day of Penance memorializing the Death of Our Lord. As a Season of Penance, Lent is "particularly appropriate" for various activities such as fasting, almsgiving, penitential pilgrimages and liturgies, and more:

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice.36 These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

― Catechism of the Catholic Church 1438

To reiterate, as explained by CCC ¶1438, Lent is especially appropriate as a Penitential Season for:

+ spiritual exercises
+ penitential liturgies
+ pilgrimages as signs of penance
+ voluntary self-denial
+ fasting - voluntary self-denial
+ almsgiving - voluntary self-denial
+ charitable works - fraternal sharing
+ missionary works - fraternal sharing

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:: Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church - Vatican

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