Lent is a wonderful season in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, one that has different dimensions that aren’t always perceptible immediately.
Particularly, the Church has traditionally divided the season of Lent into two parts to help us focus on two separate spiritual realities.
Lent is made up of two parts. The first part begins on Ash Wednesday, and it’s called in the liturgy “the beginning of the fasting days,” and ends on the Saturday before the Passion Sunday which is the Fifth Sunday of Lent.
The second part consists of the Great Fortnight popularly known as Passiontide. This part is an anticipated development of the first sorrowful mystery of the Paschal drama: it considers therefore, the interior sufferings of Christ more than the feelings of penitents and catechumens, as the first part did.
However, the first half of Lent is focused on us, our sinfulness and need for repentance. The liturgy calls us to put on sackcloth and ashes and to repent of our sins. This part of Lent helps us to meditate on interior renewal, preparing our hearts to receive the light of Christ into our lives.
The second half of Lent turns our focus especially onto the suffering of Christ. We start to enter into his Passion and the events that lead up to his betrayal and death. This part of Lent urges us to understand the results of our sins and the amazing love Jesus has for us, which led him to willingly give up his life for sinners (us). It also presents an opportunity to specifically meditate on the Passion of Christ, such as it is depicted in the Stations of the Cross.
The Church in her wisdom get to understand the need to give us specific spiritual themes to mediate on during Lent, which is gradually preparing our hearts for the great feast of Easter, when Jesus Christ conquered sin and death and opened the gates of Heaven to us.
We must prepare our hearts for such a beautiful gift and these two parts of Lent help us to exactly do that.