Lent is a season of following Christ on his way to Golgotha. As we read the story and meditate upon the way of the cross, we ask God to help us behold his mercy and grace poured out for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a time for us to look up to Jesus, look out to those in need, and look inward to our hearts that need forgiveness and healing.
In the early church, people were usually baptized on the Feast of the Resurrection (Easter). The weeks (and sometimes years) leading up to this day were filled with instruction, meditation, prayer and repentance, giving and even fasting (see Penitential Disciplines). By the time Feast of the Resurrection arrived and the new converts were baptized, it was as though their old life ended and a new life began. The newly baptized even received a new set of clothes to mark this new birthday.
Every year, we return the heart of our faith in the lenten journey toward Calvary. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our journey. Over the next several weeks, we face our need for grace, we remember what Christ has done for us, and we look ahead to the day when we shall be presented as blameless before the Father.