Lent got started as in intense period of spiritual exercises for adults in their last stage of preparation for baptism. during this time, the community not only prayed for these adults, they also fasted, gave alms, and spent time pondering the implications of their own baptism.
The Jews practiced many kind of water purification. Priests washed themselves ritually before exercising sacred functions. People had to be purified with water after they touched a corpse, bone or a tomb. Some Jewish leaders required a ritual washing before eating.
Baptism is very different from these ritual cleansing. The Jewish washing rituals were self-administered, and could be repeated many times. Christian baptism, on the other hand, is administered by another person, and is one-in-a-lifetime.
Most of all, baptism is not primarily a washing, but an immersion into water. The Greek words used to describe Jewish purification rituals mean to wash or sprinkle. On the other hand, "baptism" comes from a Greek word that means "to plunge" - for example, plunging cloth into dye, or to become submerged in water and drown.At the heart of Christian baptism is dying ("drowning") to one way of living and rising to a new way of life.