The annual observance of Lent is the special season of 40 days in preparation for Easter. Through its two-fold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the rite of election, the scrutinies, and catechesis.
Lenten Service Schedule- more details available to the right.
The three pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Each of these practices, which we should exercise throughout the year but particularly during Lent, allow us to grow closer to God and our neighbor as we prepare for the resurrection of the Savior on Easter.
Prayer and reflection are a key element to deepening our faith and love of God. Lent is the time to start (or restart) our commitment to prayer. Perhaps I haven't been praying at all. This is a great time to choose to begin. It is important to begin realistically. I can start by simply pausing when I get up and taking a slow, deep breath, and recalling what I have to do this day, and asking for grace to do it as a child of God. I may want to go to bed a half an hour earlier to give myself some time alone to read the readings for the day, or to just talk with the Lord about the problems or triumphs of the day. I may choose to go to Mass each day during Lent. I may choose to get to church on Sunday, just 15 minutes earlier, so I can reflect a bit.
Another important aspect of prayer is praying for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Penance.
There are a host of websites which offer daily reflections. There are even apps you can download to your phone.
One of our favorites is from Father Robert Barron, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, author and theologian. He utilizes new media and the internet ot evangelize. You can sign up to have a daily reflection emailed directly to your inbox.
FASTINGAt its heart, the gospel message is one of self-denial and detachment from all things that are obstacles to our growth. Jesus tells us that if we are to be his disciples, we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him (cf. Matthew 16:24). That is why Catholics practice fast and abstinence as a form of self-denial intended to lead us to perfection. The entire season of Lent is a penitential time and our attitude and behavior during this season should be marked by some sort of self-denial.
Abstinence -- Catholics over 14 years of age are bound to the obligation of abstinence. Abstinence is to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays of Lent. On days of abstinence, meat may not be used at all.
Fast -- Catholics over 18 and up to the beginning of their 60th year are bound to the obligation of fasting. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the days of fasting. On these days, only one full meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed.
ASH WEDNESDAY & GOOD FRIDAY are days of fast & abstinence. FRIDAYS OF LENT are also days of abstinence.
The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels. During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on "almsgiving," which meansdonating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. As one of the three pillars of Lenten practice, almsgiving is "a witness to fraternal charity" and "a work of justice pleasing to God."
Catholic Charities does tremendous work in assisting those in need. Consider a donation to Catholic Charities. The Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl App is another option. It offers daily prayer and reflection as well as the opportunity to donate directly through the app.
The USCCB offers many great Lent resources including audio retreats, daily reflections, Stations of the Cross and more!
Service Schedule for Lent and Holy Week
"…how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes & our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!" — Pope Francis
Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl App
Follow along with the Rice Bowl App this Lent and find ways to live out the three disciplines of Lent: fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.
Download the app on your phone