In the early church, Lent served as a time when catechumens, Christians awaiting baptism, were taught the principles of their faith, and participated in a variety of spiritual disciplines including things like fasting and prayer. The baptism itself would take place on the eve of Easter Sunday and it symbolized the process by which the new Christians die to their old selves under the baptismal waters before rising in the light of Christ. So, in a way, the disciplines of Lent were meant to prepare a person following the way of Jesus for such a radical transformation.
Christianity is costly. “When Christ calls (us),” writes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a martyr of the 20th century, “he bids (us) come and die.”