"Repent and believe in the Good News." (Mark 1:15)
Season of Lent: Fast Facts
- Lent is spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter. Both catechumens (those preparing for Baptism) and the faithful prepare for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery at Easter.
- Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 5, 2014) continuing until the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday (April 17, 2014).
- The practices of Lent involve prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
- Lent originated in the first three centuries A.D. and, over the centuries, developed from a one or two day observance to forty days (recalling the 40 day fasts of Christ, Matthew 4:2; Moses, Exodus 34:28; and Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8).
- During the Season of Lent, the Church urges all the faithful to reflect a spirit of penance in their daily life through performing acts of fast and abstinence.
Fasting requires that only one full meal be taken per day. Two other smaller meals may be taken during the day to maintain physical strength, but these two meals together should not equal a full meal in quantity. Fasting obliges all those who have reached the age of 18 and continues to oblige until age 59. Those not specifically obliged to fast are encouraged to join in the discipline of fasting to the extent that they are able.
Abstinence prohibits individuals from eating meat on a particular day. Abstinence obliges all those who have reached the age of 14 and continues to oblige throughout their entire life. Those not specifically obliged to abstain from eating meat are encouraged to join in this discipline to the extent that they are able.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. Fridays in Lent are days of abstinence.
Lent: Practices, Ideas and Suggestions
- Find out more about Lent:
- Follow a daily Lenten Calendar:
- online suggestions:
- nyfaithformation.org Stations of the Cross
- 40 the Series: a web-based dramatic series offers a unique Lenten experience to believers as well as seekers from Loyola Press.
- Living Lent Daily: prayers, thoughts and more each day to inspire you throughout your Lenten journey. A new article will become available daily throughout Lent.
- Consider some of the works of mercy:
The Corporal Works of Mercy
(are based on Matthew 25: 35-36,
and oriented toward the physical needs of our neighbor)
Feeding the hungry
Sheltering the homeless
Clothing the naked
Visiting the sick
Visiting the imprisoned
Giving drink to the thirsty
Burying the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy
(are based on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6-7,
and oriented toward the spiritual needs of our neighbor)
Instructing the ignorant
Advising the doubtful
Comforting the sorrowful
Bearing wrongs patiently
Praying for the living and dead
- Spend some more time praying:
- Ash Wednesday/Lenten Blessing: prayer service.
- Prayer and reflection:
- Weekday mass: attend a weekday mass at your parish church or a church near where you work on a regular basis.
- Sacrament of Reconciliation: Lent is a good time to go to confession; Reconciliation Monday (the Monday of Holy Week, this year April 14, 2014) is a day of extended opportunities for receiving the sacrament. Contact your parish for more information.
- Spiritual Reading: read a gospel or another book of the Bible.
- 40 Lenten Ideas from Janet Schaeffler, OP, that challenges us to remember that real penance is to live life well.
- Fasting and abstinence: donate the money you saved by fasting or giving something up to a food pantry; select from other penitential practices.
- Self-denial: use some of your time to volunteer (e.g. volunteer to help in your parish's Religious Education Program)
- Good deeds and almsgiving: give to a charity; support a cause such as helping stop the death penalty.