HELPFUL DEFINITIONS IN LENT
FAST: Eating less food than normal (does not necessarily mean no food).
- What you can eat: One normal, full-sized meal, and two smaller meals which if combined would not exceed one full meal.
- Why: “Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.” –Pope Benedict XVI
ABSTINENCE: Do not eat meat.
- What you can eat: fish and seafood
- Why: “Catholic peoples from time immemorial have set apart Friday for special penitential observance by which they gladly suffer with Christ that they may one day be glorified with Him. This is the heart of the tradition of abstinence from meat on Friday where that tradition has been observed in the holy Catholic Church.” –USCCB
ALMSGIVING: Material generosity to the less fortunate.
- What you can give: money, goods, acts of charity
- Why: Almsgiving “represents a specific way to assist those in need and, at the same time, an exercise in self-denial to free us from attachment to worldly goods . . . Almsgiving helps us to overcome this constant temptation, teaching us to respond to our neighbor’s needs and to share with others whatever we possess through divine goodness.” –Pope Benedict XVI
IMPORTANT DAYS DURING LENT
Ash Wednesday: Marks the start of Lent and the time for penance. Obligatory day of fasting (ages 18 to 59) and abstinence (ages 14 & over).
Fridays of Lent: Obligatory abstinence (ages 14 & over). All Fridays (even outside of Lent) are days of penance.
Holy Thursday: Lent ends and the Holy Triduum begins in the evening with the commemoration of the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Good Friday: The anniversary of the Crucifixion of Christ (no Mass). Obligatory day of fasting (ages 18 to 59) and abstinence (ages 14 & over).
Holy Saturday: Christ is in the grave conquering death and freeing the captives. Final day of Lenten fasting (no daily Mass, Easter Vigil begins at sundown).
Sacred Triduum: The period of 3 days (Holy Thursday + Good Friday + Holy Saturday) during which we remember Christ’s Passion, ending at the Easter Vigil (Saturday evening).
Easter Sunday: Lent has ended and the joy begins, the day of Christ’s resurrection, the principle Christian feast of the entire liturgical year. This is the celebration of Christ’s victory over sin and death merited for us by his passion, death, and resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.
WHAT IS RENT AND WHY DO WE GIVE THINGS UP DURING THIS PERIOD?
Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means “spring.” The 40 days of Lent correspond to the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness to fast, pray, and endure the temptations of the devil, all in preparation for his public ministry which would culminate in his death on the cross.
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. In the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. Today, Christians focus on their relationship with God, often choosing to give up something or to volunteer and give of themselves for others.
Sundays in Lent are not counted in the forty days because each Sunday represents a “mini-Easter” and the reverent spirit of Lent is tempered with joyful anticipation of the Resurrection.
This years Lent began with Ash Wednesday on March 6, 2019 and will ends on Holy Thursday on April 18, 2019. On the evening of Holy Thursday the Sacred Triduum beings.
Each year, Lent offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. – Pope Benedict XVI