“Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those
in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ."
- Pope Francis
The 2020 Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26 and continues to
Palm Sunday, April 5th.
Lent is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting, special prayer and almsgiving in preparation for Easter. The name "Lent" is from the Middle English Lenten and Anglo-Saxon Lenten, meaning spring; its more primitive ecclesiastical name was the "forty days," tessaracoste in Greek. The number "forty" is first noted in the Canons of Nicaea (A.D. 325), likely in imitation of Jesus' fast in the desert before His public ministry (with Old Testament precedent in Moses and Elijah). By the fourth century, in most of the West, it referred to six days' fast per week of six weeks (Sundays were excluded); in the seventh century the days from Ash Wednesday through the First Sunday were added to make the number forty.
During Lent, we are asked to devote ourselves to seeking the Lord in prayer and reading Scripture, to service by giving alms, and to sacrifice self-control through fasting. Many know of the tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent, but we are also called to practice self-discipline and fast in other ways throughout the season. Contemplate the meaning and origins of the Lenten fasting tradition in this reflection. In addition, the giving of alms is one way to share God's gifts—not only through the distribution of money but also through the sharing of our time and talents. As St. John Chrysostom reminds us: "Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2446). The key to fruitful observance of these practices is to recognize their link to baptismal renewal. We are called not just to abstain from sin during Lent, but to true conversion of our hearts and minds as followers of Christ. We recall those waters in which we were baptized into Christ's death, died to sin and evil, and began a new life in Christ. In Lent, the baptized are called to renew their baptismal commitment as others prepare to be baptized through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a period of learning and discernment for individuals who have declared their desire to become Catholics.
Stations of the Cross / Way of the Cross: