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Lent begins on Feb. 14, 2018, mass times and refresher course!

Ash Wednesday Mass: 7:30am, 8:30am, 6:30pm

 

Lenten Season 101: A Guide for Everything You Need to
Know by Gretchen Filz

 

Lent is the time of spiritual preparation prior to the Easter season, just as Advent is for
Christmas. Jesus taught us clearly that there is no resurrection without the Cross, and Lent is
the Church’s great spiritual journey as she, the Bride of Christ, joins her Divine spouse in His
great suffering on our behalf.

Basically, you don’t get the joy of Easter without the self-sacrifice of Lent; the disciples of
Jesus follow in his footsteps . . . including the bloody ones. Here’s a rundown of everything
major you need to know about the Lenten season, the 40+ days of penance to prepare our
hearts Easter, the greatest of all Christian feasts.

LENT IN A NUTSHELL
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday (this year March 1, 2017) and ends on Holy Thursday (this
year April 13, 2017). On the evening of Holy Thursday the Sacred Triduum beings.
The 40 days of Lent correspond to the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness to fast, pray,
and endure the temptations of the devil, all in preparation for his public ministry which would
culminate in his death on the cross.

“Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our
Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become
more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her
duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of
interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.” -Pope Benedict XVI

LENTEN MESSAGE FROM THE HOLY FATHER
Each year the Holy Father offers a new Lenten theme, his exhortation to the faithful as they
enter the liturgical season in mind and heart. You can read Pope Francis’ message for 2017 in
its entirety at the link below. This year’s theme is:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over
death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with
all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the
Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently
awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily,
8 January 2016).
Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification
offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word
of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now
like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find
inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do
in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.

HELPFUL DEFINITIONS

FAST: Eating less food than normal (does not necessarily mean no food).
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What you can eat: One normal, full-sized meal, and two smaller meals which if
combined would not exceed one full meal.
Why: “Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition
to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow
Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our
being: the hunger and thirst for God.” –Pope Benedict XVI

ABSTINENCE: Do not eat meat.
What you can eat: fish and seafood
Why: “Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special
penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be
glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday
where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.” –USCCB

ALMSGIVING: Material generosity to the less fortunate.
What you can give: money, goods, acts of charity
Why: Almsgiving “represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same
time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods . . .
Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our
neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine
goodness.” –Pope Benedict XVI

IMPORTANT DAYS DURING LENT
Ash Wednesday: Marks the start of Lent and the time for penance. Obligatory day of fasting
(ages 18 to 59) and abstinence (ages 14 & over).

Fridays of Lent: Obligatory abstinence (ages 14 & over). All Fridays (even outside of Lent)
are days of penance.

Holy Thursday: Lent ends and the Holy Triduum begins in the evening with the
commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

Good Friday: The anniversary of the Crucifixion of Christ (no Mass). Obligatory day of fasting
(ages 18 to 59) and abstinence (ages 14 & over).

Holy Saturday: Christ is in the grave conquering death and freeing the captives. Final day of
Lenten fasting (no daily Mass, Easter Vigil begins at sundown).

Sacred Triduum: The period of 3 days (Holy Thursday + Good Friday + Holy Saturday) during
which we remember Christ’s Passion, ending at the Easter Vigil (Saturday evening).
3/6

Easter Sunday: Lent has ended and the joy begins, the day of Christ’s resurrection, the
principle Christian feast of the entire liturgical year. This is the celebration of Christ’s victory
over sin and death merited for us by his passion, death, and resurrection from the dead on
Easter Sunday.

OBLIGATORY DUTIES FOR CATHOLICS DURING LENT

Fasting & Abstinence: Our obligatory duty on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Abstinence: Do not eat meat on the Fridays of Lent. Treat it as a day of penance.
Confession: Catholics are obligated to fulfill their Easter Duty by receiving Holy Communion
at least once during the Easter season (from Easter Sunday to Pentecost), therefore the
Sacrament of Penance for any mortal sins is required prior to this, and is strongly
recommended as a Lenten penitential practice for any venial sins prior to the Easter feast.

BEST LENTEN PRACTICES
The entire season of Lent is a penitential season. The liturgical color for Lent is purple
(just like Advent) to show that it is a special time of penance. Taking up additional
practices, such as self-imposed fasting outside of the obligatory times, Lenten devotions
and spiritual reading, Stations of the Cross, a daily rosary, serving the poor, etc., all
enhance the penitential and spiritual aspect of Lent.
Make the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) an important part of your Lenten
penitential practice. Many parishes have special times for confession during Lent. One
traditional devotion towards this sacrament is to make a general confession of your
whole life using an examination of conscience.
Attend Mass on Ash Wednesday. While it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, all are
encouraged to attend to receive ashes on the forehead.
Attend Mass on Holy Thursday to commemorate the institution of the Eucharist, called
the “Mass of the Lord’s Supper.”
At 3 o’clock on Good Friday, pause and make a special effort to keep this hour sacred.
This is the hour of Christ’s death on the cross, after which redemption for mankind was
completed. Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet is ideal at this time (it just takes five
minutes), or check your local parish schedules for a 3 o’clock Good Friday service (see
below).
If possible, try to clear your schedule in order to participate in the traditional Veneration
of the Cross service on Good Friday.
Continue your Good Friday fast up to the start of the Easter Vigil to correspond to the
entire time from Christ’s death on the cross until his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Attend the Easter Vigil at sundown on Holy Saturday to welcome the Easter Sunday
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feast. Pray for those being received into full communion with the Catholic Church at this
Mass, that they will remain faithful to Christ and his Church, grow in holiness, and
become saints.
On Easter Sunday and throughout the Easter season, fully celebrate the joy of Christ’s
Resurrection and the conquering of sin and death he merited for us. Greet one another
with the Paschal Greeting/Easter Acclamation, “Christ is risen!” and the response, “He is
risen indeed!”
FINAL THOUGHT
“The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves
not to be enemies of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of divine justice. By it we gain strength
against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow
remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the
Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such
negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private
woe.” – Pope Benedict XIV
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