Lent begins on Wednesday. The first day of Lent is called, Ash Wednesday. It is on this day that you will receive the gift of ashes on your forehead in the shape of a cross. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but it is day on which we are encouraged to attend Mass in order to receive the blessing of ashes.
Lent is time of mortification through which we can grow closer to God and prepare for the celebration of the Risen Lord on Easter Sunday. Fasting, abstinence, and turning away from sin are parts of our spiritual journey in the season of Lent.
Jesus spent 40 days in the desert in which He fasted. He neither ate food nor drank water.
"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry." Matthew 4: 1-2
Here are two articles that explain the reasons for fasting and abstinence during Lent in the Catholic Church::
These are excellent references, especially when you are asked to explain these practices.
Now, is the time to begin thinking of your special spiritual practice for Lent. I'll have suggestions in my next post.