Lent

Lent is the Season of repentance, prayer and fasting.

 

The  Season  of   Lent   lasts  for  40 days beginning with Ash Wednesday  and  ending  with  Easter.  It   represents  the  40  days  Jesus  spent  in  prayer and  fasting  in  the  desert  before  beginning  His  public  ministry.

 

Lent is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to and rediscover the importance of the corporal and spiritual works

of mercy.

St John Chrysostom wrote:  “ No  act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor  and  eat  ashes  and  sigh  continually,  if  you  do  no  good  to  others,  you  do  nothing  great”.

 

      Corporal works of mercy:

 

To feed the hungry

To give drink to the thirsty

To clothe the naked

To welcome the stranger

To heal the sick

To visit the imprisoned

To bury the dead

 

Spiritual works of mercy:

 

To counsel the doubtful

To instruct the ignorant

To admonish sinners

To comfort the afflicted

To forgive offences

To bear patiently those who do us ill

To pray for the living and the dead.

 Ash  Wednesday

Ash  Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday and marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection  on Easter  Sunday, through  which we attain redemption.      It is a day of fasting and abstinence.

The  ashes are made from the burning of the blessed  palm  branches, taken from the previous year's Palm Sunday Mass and to symbolize the dust from which God made us.

As the priest applies the ashes  to a person's forehead, he speaks the words " Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return" or " Repent and believe in the Gospel."

The tradition of receiving ashes has its origins in the Old Testament, where sinners performed acts of public penance. 

It marks a commitment to Jesus Christ and God and is a time when we want to show God we are sorry for the wrong things we have done in the past. It is also an opportunity for us to begin to make changes in our lives, to reflect the teachings of Jesus and begin our journey towards salvation.

 

Ash Wednesday, as the first day of Lent is also the day when we can make Lenten Promises: to deny ourselves something, or to regularly do something to help someone.

Father,

You have taught us to overcome our sins

By prayer, fasting and works of mercy.

When we are discouraged by our weakness,

When we are despondent and  thoughtless,

Help us to know that you are always with us,

Guiding us every day and

Giving us strength through your Love.

Amen

 

 

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