Ash Wednesday 14th February;         Palm Sunday 25th March;              Good Friday 30th March;      Easter 1st April;       Pentecost 20th May

 Good Friday) is a day of fasting and abstinence

Fasting and Abstinence: Catholics between the ages of 18 and 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In addition, all Catholics 14 years old and older must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent.

Fasting means partaking of only one full meal.

Some food (not equal to a second full meal) is permitted at breakfast and around midday or in the evening—depending on when a person chooses to eat the main or full meal.

Abstinence means not eating meat, (This does not include food made of eggs, milk products or condiments made of animal fat.)

Some people are excused from fasting and/or abstinence because of sickness or other reasons.

*The divine law tells us that each of us in our own way need to do penance. We must all turn from sin and make reparation to God for our sins. We must forgive and show love for one another just as we ask for God’s love and forgiveness.

*There are other works and means of doing penance: prayer, acts of self-denial, almsgiving and works of personal charity. Attending Mass daily or several times a week, praying the rosary, making the way of the cross, visiting the sick and shut-ins and giving an overworked mother a break by baby-sitting etc.—all of these can be even more meaningful and demanding than simply abstaining from meat on Friday.

Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.

Whereas Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross, Lent recalls the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion by Rome.

The Christian churches that observe Lent in the 21st century use it as a time for prayer and penance.

Why 40 days?  40 is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture:

  • In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
  • The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
  • Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
  • Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.

Most Christians regard Jesus’ time in the wilderness as the key event for the duration of Lent.

Why is it called Lent?    Lent is an old English word meaning ‘lengthen’. Lent is observed in spring, when the days begin to get longer.

The colour purple   Purple is the symbolic colour used in some churches throughout Lent, for drapes and altar frontals.

Purple is used for two reasons: firstly because it is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion, and secondly because purple is the colour associated with royalty, and celebrates Christ’s resurrection and sovereignty.