Brother James Dowd has an informative article on the meaning of Lent in PeaceSigns magazine this month. Here is what he writes in part:
The place to start is given to us by the Prophet Joel, from which the first reading at the Eucharist for Ash Wednesday is taken. "Yet even now says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing." (2:12-13). A God filled with vengeance and intent on punishment is not a God, in my opinion, who invites his people to return with all their hearts. Yes, perhaps fasting and other types of penitence are called for. But what is to be remembered is not the outward ritualistic signs--rending garments--but rather the inner conversion that we are all called to--rending hearts--in order to choose the Lord of Life as our guide, our light, our love, and our life. For in the end, the Christian story is really about God having chosen us to be part of his Life, his Body.
What Lent is about is not self denial and closing our hearts, but about opening up our hearts in selflessness to God and God's creation. Tough thing to do when we are biologically programmed to be self serving and self protecting.
You can read Brother Dowd's article by clicking here.