Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls on Wednesday 13 February. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence. Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry, where he endured temptation.
The Lenten season is a solemn observance in the liturgical year lasting for a period of approximately six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. In the general Latin-rite and most Western denominations Lent is taken to run from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) or to Easter Eve. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer, through prayer, penance (including participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession), acts of charity, and self-denial. This call to renewal of our Christian life is a central part of our preparation for Easter. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we receive the gift of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Its celebration should be an integral part of our preparation for the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Saviour. Lent concludes with the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence, the money saved from this can be donated to charity. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed. As well as giving something up it is becoming more common to take something up as well and this may include taking time to volunteer, or spending more time in prayer.
Pope’s Message for Lent 2013
Pope Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2013 is on the theme: Believing in charity calls forth charity
Click here to read the full text of the Pope’s Lenten message.
Homilies and addresses from Bishops for Lent 2013:
Diocesan Lenten initiatives/resources
- Diocese of Cork and Ross – Reflections for Lent
- Archdiocese of Dublin – I Believe in Lent
- Diocese of Elphin – Lent 2013, A Call to Prayer and Fasting
- Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora – Lent 2013: A Journey with Jesus
- Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin – Parish Resources for Lent
Additional diocesan information will be added as it becomes available.
Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign 2013
Click here for details of how you can get involved in this year’s Trócaire Lenten campaign which this year focuses on an isolated community in rural India. The community in Odisha, in the east of India live in real poverty.
Some facts about Odisha:
- 47% of people in Odisha live below the rural state poverty line of 28 euro cents / day.
- Odisha has the second highest rate of infant mortality among states in India: 77 per live 1,000 births compared to the national average infant mortality rate of 57 per 1000 births.
- The drop out ratio from primary school stands at 60%.
- The most recent census in 2011 shows literacy rates in Odisha as a whole to be 74%.
- The female literacy rate in Odisha is 61%, compared to 80% for males
- 57% of Odisha’s population suffer from chronic energy deficiency due to poor nutrition.
But with Trócaire’s help, and working through their partners, the community is being built up and empowered to work together towards a brighter future. Because of this help they can live lives of dignity and potential. Trócaire invites you to be in solidarity with this community this Lent; praying for them and supporting them and communities like them in whatever way you can.
Repent and Believe the Good News
An important part of Lent for followers of Jesus Christ is the practice of repentance. In fact Lent is a special period of time set aside for us to intensify and concentrate on the call to repentance that is at the start of our response to Christ. In the Gospel of St Mark, the first statement spoken by Jesus says ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15).
The Bishops launched a message for Lent 2012 to call to mind the central place of repentance in the lives of all of us. This message builds upon the summons to renewal that Pope Benedict XVI has given to us in Ireland in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and also last week in the publications of the Summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. As the Bishops say in this message today, ‘The task for us in Ireland is the permanent task of the Christian – to resist the temptation to put convenience, celebrity, domination, blindness, dishonesty, pride, or any other ambition or craving or comfort in the place of God. It is a demanding path but it is the path that leads to the truth which sets us free. It is the only path to a real renewal of ourselves, our country, our Church.’ Repentance and penance help us to strip away what is unimportant in our lives and focus on our dependency on God and our need for his strength.
Click here to read the full text of Repent and Believe the Good News
Friday Penance Leaflet
In his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland Pope Benedict XVI suggested a number of initiatives to support renewal in the Church here.
Pope Benedict asked us to offer our Friday Penances “for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength.” He asked us to offer our fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.
In addition Pope Benedict encouraged us, “to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace”.
The Bishops’ Conference resource leaflet Friday Penance is available to assist of all of us in continuing to respond to the invitation of the Holy Father.
Penance arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance and this new leaflet describes why penance is an essential part of all genuine Christian living:
- in memory of the passion and death of the Lord
- as a sharing in Christ’s suffering
- as an expression of inner conversion
- as a form of reparation for sin
Friday Penance goes on to explain the reason why penance on Fridays is important: “Declaring some days throughout the year as days of fast and abstinence (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) is meant to intensify penances of the Christian. Lent is the traditional season for renewal and penance but Catholics also observe each Friday of the year as days of penance. The link between Friday and penance is extremely ancient and is even reflected in the Irish word for Friday – An Aoine (the fast).”
The leaflet suggests ways of fulfilling Friday penance such as abstaining from meat or alcohol, visiting the Blessed Sacrament or helping the poor, sick and lonely as well as other suggestions.
Click here for the text of the Friday Penance Leaflet
Tweets on Friday Penance
The following are suggested tweets which could be tweeted each Friday on diocesan and parish Twitter accounts:
- Tweet A – Friday Penance: Make a special effort at family prayer. Make the Stations of the Cross. Do something to help the poor, sick or lonely.
- Tweet B – Friday Penance: Make a special effort to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Abstain from meat or some other food