The season of Lent is a solemn observance in the liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday. The number “40” is in commemoration of the forty days which Jesus spent, before beginning his public ministry, fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by the Devil. In fact in most parts of the world, this season is simply called “the 40 days” (Latin, Quadragesima; Spanish, Cuaresma; Greek, Tesserakoste). In English/German speaking parts of the world, it is called Lent after an old English word meaning “spring.”  

Sundays are not included in the counting because they are days of joy, rather than solemn days of reflection.

The purpose of Lent is to give us time to prepare for the Resurrection of Christ through prayer, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and abstinence. 

  • Prayer: Part of preparing for the celebration of Holy Week and Easter is to rededicate oneself to prayer. In addition to the many forms of prayer, faithful are encouraged to participate in the Stations of the Cross
  • Repentance of Sins: Catholics are encouraged to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, preferably during Lent
  • Almsgiving: providing for the needs of others, typically through financial support
  • Abstinence: the custom of giving something up for Lent forces us to pay closer attention to our vices, or habits that detract us from putting God at the center of our lives

Important dates:

  • Ash Wednesday: The first day of Lent. To commemorate the start of the season, Catholics attend mass and receive ashes on their foreheads, accompanied by the words, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The ashes are ancient symbol of repentance and mortality. Ash Wednesday is also a day for abstaining from meat, as well as for fasting (February 14, 2018)
  • Fridays in Lent: in addition to giving something up for Lent, Catholics also follow the tradition of abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during Lent
  • Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphant entry in to Jerusalem and begins “Holy Week,” which ends on Holy Saturday, the night before Easter. At Mass, palm branches are blessed and we read the Passion narrative.  (March 25, 2018)

Traditionally, palm branches blessed on Palm Sunday are burned the following year to create the ashes distributed on Ash Wednesday.

Lenten Dietary Observances

All Catholics are instructed to observe the days of fast and abstinence set by the Church. ASH WEDNESDAY and GOOD FRIDAY are days of fast and abstinence. FRIDAYS OF LENT are also days of abstinence.

FASTING is to be observed by all 18 years of age and older, who have not yet celebrated their 59th birthday. On a fast day, one full meal is allowed. Two other 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 juices, are allowed. Note that for those whose health could be seriously compromised, such as the sick, manual laborers, or pregnant or nursing mothers, the fast may be relaxed or dispensed with.

ABSTINENCE is observed by all 14 years of age and older. On days of abstinence, no meat is allowed. Note that when health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. When in doubt concerning fast and abstinence, the parish priest should be consulted.

Fasting, almsgiving, and prayer are the three traditional disciplines of Lent. The faithful and catechumens should undertake these practices seriously in a spirit of penance and of preparation for baptism or of renewal of baptism at Easter.


Stations of the Cross

Every Friday in Lent, 4:30 pm

  • 2/16: St Anne
  • 2/23: St Pius X
  • 3/2: MPB
  • 3/9: St Anne
  • 3/16: St Pius X
  • 3/23: MPB
  • 3/30 (Good Friday): St Anne

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