LENT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Andres Ortiz




What is Lent?

The season of Lent is a Catholic liturgical season consisting of forty days of fasting, prayer, and penitence beginning at Ash Wednesday and concluding at sundown on Holy Thursday. The official liturgical color for the season of Lent is violet.

The observance of Lent is related to the celebration of Easter. In the first three centuries of the Christian era, most Christians prepared for Easter by fasting and praying for three days. In some places this was extended to the entire week before Easter (now known as “Holy Week”). There is evidence that in Rome, the length of preparation was three weeks.

The word derives from the Middle English word Lenten, meaning springtime – the time of lengthening days. There is biblical support for doing penance, but the season of Lent, like all Catholic liturgical seasons, developed over time. In its early three-week form, Lent was the period of intense spiritual and liturgical preparation for catechumens before they were baptized at Easter. Many members of the community imitated this time of preparation with the catechumens.


 


By the fourth century (when Christianity was legalized) Lent had developed into its current length of forty days, the length of the fast and temptation of Jesus in the desert (cf. Luke 4:1-13). Recently, research has suggested that the development of Lent was also influenced by the forty-day span of fasting practiced by many in the early Church (especially monks). This fast, beginning right after Epiphany (January 6th) stressed prayer and penance. Once most people were Christian and baptized as infants, Lent lost the connection to the preparation of catechumens and the themes of repentance and fasting became dominant.

When does Lent begin?

Traditionally, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. Since this is more than forty days, some contend that Sundays are not counted and that Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are counted instead. Others say that it begins on the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday. No one is exactly sure how Ash Wednesday became the first day of Lent.

Many Catholics were taught as children to “give up something” for Lent. The sacrifices in Lent are really penance, in the same spirit as the Ninehvites that repented at the preaching of Jonah. Throughout our history, Christians have found prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to be an important part of repentance and renewal. Many Catholics now add something during Lent rather than giving up something, either to address personal habits that need work or to add some outreach to others in need.

It is not necessary to “give up something” but it would be a tragedy to do nothing.

Ash Wednesday
It is impossible to determine when the seventh Wednesday before Easter was designated as the beginning of the preparation period before Easter. It does date from at least the fourth century. During that century, penitents looking for forgiveness and re-entry into the community would dress in sackcloth and sprinkle ashes to show their repentance. This custom certainly predates Christianity as can be seen by references in the Hebrew Scriptures (cf. Esther 4:2-3; Danie19:3; Jonah 3:6) and Christian Bible (cf. Matthew 11:21).

There is no doubt that the custom of distributing ashes to everyone on Ash Wednesday came from imitation of the practice of wearing ashes by public penitents. As Lent increasingly focused on the themes of repentance and renewal, Christians sensed their own need for repentance. The practice of distribution of ashes to all members of the community is mentioned in official documents of 1091 (Cf. Synod of Benventum, 1091 Manse, XX, 739) although nearly a hundred years earlier it is already assumed in a homily of the period.

Lenten Regulations

The Catholic Church, in an attempt to help Catholics do at least a minimum during Lent, asks all Catholics to fast and abstain from meat on certain days. Fasting means to limit food to one full meal a day with the possibility of two smaller meals (not adding up to a full meal) as needed. Abstinence means not eating meat, although fish is allowed. Catholics are asked to observe all days of fasting and abstience which is one of the precepts of the Church.

Catholics 14 years of age or older are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. Catholics between the ages of 14 and 59 are also to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
If one’s work or health make it inadvisable to fast or abstain from meat, they are not obligated to do so.







da:
http://www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/lent-in-the-catholic-church/


 

 

 

 

 

MARCH 26: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT - LAETARE SUNDAY
Father Albert Lakra
There is a story told about a little boy at church with his mother. He was a good little boy, quite and well behaved. He didn't ...to be continued

 

MARCH 26: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT
As we did last week, we are reading today from the Gospel of John. In today's Gospel, the healing of the man born blind ...to be continued

 

MARCH 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
Eileen Burke-Sullivan
I have always been struck by the simplicity of the Annunciation ...to be continued

MARCH 20: Solemnity of Saint Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Maureen McCann Waldron
Jesus had a radically different view of God, one that drew so ...to be continued

 

MARCH 19: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
by Luis Rodriguez
For the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus' retreat to ...to be continued

MARCH 19: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
On this Sunday and the next two Sundays, we break from reading the Gospel ...to be continued

 

MARCH 12: SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
by Joan Blandin Howard
Remember the first time riding a “two wheeler” without training ...to be continued

MARCH 12: SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
For the second Sunday of Lent, we move from Jesus' retreat to ...to be continued

 

MARCH 5: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
In our First Reading for this liturgy, we hear of one garden, two ...to be continued

MARCH 5: FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
In each of the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke) ...to be continued

 

LENT SEASON:
On the Journey with Jesus, Our Compassionate Brother
Ralph McCloud
"When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very ...to be continued

Lent in the Catholic Church
Andres Ortiz
The season of Lent is a Catholic liturgicalliturgical season ...to be continued

Living Lent daily
Advent has a wreath. Christmas has a tree. Lent has Ashes ...to be continued

A Lenten retreat
by Fr. Larry Gillick, S.J.
Lent, spring, and the Spiritual life have this in common ...to be continued

 

 

PROPOSALS FOR MEDITATION - We want to offer spiritual texts, which can be of help to nourish our faith and strengthen our life in Christ: they are an opportunity to compare our experience with that of Christian witnesses 'old' and contemporary.

Christ the high priest makes atonement for our sins - Origen
The mercy of God to the penitent - St. Maximus the Confessor
Hold fast to God, the one true good - Saint Ambrose
A Samaritan woman came to draw water - Saint Augustine
Friendship with God - William A. Barry, SJ
Christ and Moses - St. John Chrysostom
What should I give up for Lent? chocolate? ice cream? soda?
In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame ... - Saint Augustine
Biblical time: Chronos or Kairos? - Archbishop Christopher Prowse

 

 

 

 

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