Hey guys! Thanks to those that came for the Lenten retreat today, it was so great! As we know Ash Wednesday (1st March) begins the season of Lent. Some helpful tips we picked up:
WHAT IS LENT?
Lent is the period of forty days in which the Church prepares for Holy Week and Easter. It has been observed as a time of penance and renewal for the whole Church, with fasting and abstinence, since the fourth century.“By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 540).The Church sets before us the example of Christ in the desert, so that with him we can prepare for the celebration of Passiontide and Easter by purifying our hearts, taking our Christian life more seriously, and practicing penance.
WHAT IS ASH WEDNESDAY?
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and it is an especially penitential day, when Christians manifest their personal desire to be converted to God. The imposition of ashes is an invitation to live through Lent as a conscious and intense share in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, in his Cross and Resurrection, by taking part in the Eucharist and living a life of charity. The imposition of ashes originated in early forms of canonical penance. It began to be extended to all Christians in the tenth century. The Ash Wednesday liturgy preserves elements of this long-standing tradition in the imposition of ashes and the strict fast.
The blessing and imposition of ashes takes place at Mass, after the homily. In special circumstances it may be done within a celebration of the Word. The prayers for the imposition of ashes derive from Scripture: Genesis 3:19 and Mark 1:15. The ashes come from the palm branches which were blessed on Passion (Palm) Sunday the previous year, following a tradition that goes back to the twelfth century. The prayer of blessing the ashes makes reference to the sinful condition of those who will receive them. The ashes symbolise the weak and transitory state of our life on earth, as we journey towards death; the fact that we are sinners; our ardent supplication for God to come to our help; and the Resurrection, since we mortals are destined to share in Christ’s triumph.
WHAT IS FASTING AND ABSTINENCE?
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are universal days of fast and abstinence. Catholics still consider Fridays throughout Lent as days of abstinence. Anyone over the age of 18 and under the age of 59 are obliged to fast and abstain. Fasting, in the Latin Church, is the limitation of food and drink – typically to one main meal and two smaller meals, with no solid foods in between. Abstaining, in this context, is the refraining from certain kinds of food or drink, typically meat. In lieu of fasting, one may substitute works of charity.
OUR TIPS FOR LENT
1. Lent is about emptying yourself of ‘you’ and filling yourself up with God – so giving up stuff is not really about what is convenient or about a ‘challenge’ but it is the sacrifice you are making for a closer relationship with God.
2. For Lent, give up a vice & pick up a virtue i.e. break a bad habit & pick up a good one.
Below are a few links to short videos (and pictures) we watched to prepare our hearts and minds ahead.
- Lent: A new beginning
- Infographic on Ash Wednesday
- Simple guide to Lent (with The Lenten Prayer)
- 10 Tips for the Best Lent
- The Pope’s message for Lent 2017
- Fr. Robert Barron on Lent
- How I Once Used Lent to Ruin Easter
- Preparing for Lent