So, a dear friend of mine when we last spoke told me a story about how he got in a theological spat recently with a group of Calvinist hating on Lent. His point was:
Lent is no worse than Christmas or Easter in that they each (at least in their rituals/date) have very pagan roots and are used by liturgical Christians and adopted by some non-liturgical Christians as a means for worship and the larger general American society and even commercialized. Therefore those using these aspects of the church calendar are ignorant of the origins of the traditions, but they should continue as long as it remains sincerely worshipful and does not cross a line into unbiblical practice.
Frankly, I think his position is a good one to take with regard to most “spiritual formation” material. A lot (not all; nor would I say a majority) of it has unChristian roots but is rebranded and used for Christian worship and as long as it does not become rote/legalistic/insincere and it does not teach bad theology or contradict the Bible, there’s no real harm in using these tools/means of grace regardless of their origin.
With regard to Lent, according to Catholic tradition, it was/is a catechumen’s final period of preparation for Baptism. The penitents and the rest of the community accompanied them on their journey and prepared to renew their baptismal vows at Easter. In practice, “Lent is a season of self-examination, fasting and penance in preparation for our Easter Day observance.” This is true in Protestant traditions as well, although most ignore the season since the church calendar is not observed. Methodism teaches, “Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection.”
Personally, I find the season used in this way to be a rich and beneficial practice.