The revelry of Carnival has now ended, and the solemn, introspective season of Lent has begun.

For many Christians, Lent is a time of preparing themselves for Easter.

They do this by sacrificing, by avoiding certain foods and through other sorts of behavior changes. For many Catholics, today and the Fridays throughout Lent are marked by a refusal to eat meat.

While the traditional Catholic practice of not eating meat is understandable, it is much less of a sacrifice here, where the Lenten season is associated with delicious seafood fare – the food that is so common in south Louisiana and so dearly loved by locals.

Whatever the reason for embracing local seafood, though, it is a good dining option. And our seafood stores and restaurants will surely be busy from now through Easter.

The Christian tradition also calls for prayer and penance during Lent, practices that ask us to look within ourselves at the things we do or don’t do, should or shouldn’t do.

It is an intensely personal and private matter, but it is somehow shared when so many throughout our local communities are participating in this religious observance.

For others, a time of introspection is also welcome. It is good for any of us to take stock of where we are in life and what changes we long to make. And now, as a particularly gloomy winter looks to give way to the promise of spring, is a great time to do just that.

Lent is also a time of good works, a time when Christians embrace the notion of improving the world around them as part of their own betterment.

It is a practice that makes a lot of sense.

In our increasingly self-centered world – a place where we can tune into our own music, our own friends and our own media – it is good to think outwardly. It is noble and worthwhile to think of our fellow people. How can we help? How can we make a difference?

The answers are different for each of us. But the questions are well worth asking. Through the quiet contemplation of Lent, we can seek the changes that will make ourselves better people and lift up those around us.

And today, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of the season. With Mardi Gras behind us, it is time for a quitter, more thoughtful time.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper, not of any individual.