2) Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, and yet it is one of the most attended Masses/services of the year.
3) Lent is "observed" not "celebrated".
4) Lent is not a "countdown to Easter" as my 15 year old son quipped on Facebook. If one is going to call it a "countdown", Lent more accurately is a countdown to Holy Thursday, but even that idea is somewhat of a fallacy..
5) Very few of us are holy enough to refer to Lent as a retreat, as our wonderful pastor did in his bulletin article this past Sunday:
"I like to think of Lent as a 40-day retreat that we enter into with the entire universal Church. It gives us an opportunity to re-examine our personal relationship with the Lord and to personally judge the spiritual state of our own life. The ashes of Ash Wednesday are a stark reminder of the shortness of life, the reality of death, the mortal nature of the human body, and the need for redemption. Salvation has come to the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. He suffered and died on the cross for the remission of our sins and to show us that death is the doorway through which we enter into eternity-eternal life or eternal damnation. Lent provides an opportunity for each one of us to contemplate the mystery of our redemption that we might more deeply appreciate the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily life, the forgiveness of sins that He has purchased for us by His suffering and death, and the eternal life that He has promised to those who are committed to Him."
6) In ages past, the Church imposed fast and abstinence was practiced not only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but throughout Lent. Not only was meat abstained from, but milk, eggs, butter, and cheese were also sacrificed during the entire 40 days.
7) For more facts and reflections go here.
Have a blessed and holy Lent.