Lent begins on Wednesday 10 February 2016. Below you will find some resources for Lent 2016 including an explanation of Lent and its symbols as well as links to the Lent 2016 message from Pope Francis and engaging on social media during Lent:
The Meaning of Lent
The English word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning ‘Spring’. In other languages the word comes from the Latin, Quadragesima – a period of 40 days. In the Christian tradition the forty days is understood to refer to a time of intense prayer and preparation; we remember the biblical stories of Noah and the flood of 40 days, the forty years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and Christ’s forty day fast in the desert in preparation for his earthly ministry.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence. In the readings today there is a great consciousness of our sinfulness, we we pray ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned’. There is also a sense that the time to repent and turn back is now. The Gospel tells us how to approach that renewal of our lives. It puts before us the remedy in prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three strands of Lenten observance are as ancient as Christianity itself. There is no substitute for them. ‘Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. If we have not all three together, we have nothing,’ says Saint Peter Chrysologus.
Why we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
“Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.”
Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice. The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolize penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.
Pope Francis Message for Lent 2016
In his message for Lent 2016, which begins on 11 February, Pope Francis has asked us to live Lent more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. He said: “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them.”
Click here to read the full message from Pope Francis.
Daily Mass Readings for Lent 2016
For daily Mass readings during Lent 2016 please click on our Mass Readings resource on www.catholicbishops.ie/readings
[Note: The readings are not archived and are active for the day you click on to them only]
Friday Penance during Lent
Penance arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance and 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
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)” – Friday Penance leaflet from ICBC, 2010.
The following are suggested as ways of fulfilling Friday penance:
- Abstaining from meat or some other food
- Abstaining from alcoholic drink or smoking
- Making a special effort at involvement in family prayer
- Making a special effort to participate in Mass on Fridays
- Visiting the Blessed Sacrament
- Making the Stations of the Cross
- Fasting from all food for a longer period than usual and perhaps giving what is saved to the needy
- Helping the poor, sick, old, or lonely.
The following are suggested tweets which could be tweeted each Friday during Lent on parish social media accounts:
Tweet 1 – 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 2 – Friday Penance: Make a special effort to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Abstain from meat or some other food.
Lent on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
To follow events in dioceses and parishes for Lent 2016:
- LIKE our Lent page on Facebook
- Follow the hashtags #lent2016 #lent16 #lent on Twitter
- Join our Lent 2016 Instagram challenge on the theme of Mercy using the hashtag #lentwordsofmercy on Instagram and Twitter. We are inviting you to share words of Mercy every day during Lent on the themes of Mercy using quotes from Pope Francis, Scripture, other sources or words you want to share yourself. To get involved, please download the visual below and share it on Ash Wednesday using the hashtag #wordsofmercy. Each day after that we are asking you to share text and/or image versions of some words of Mercy on both Instagram and Twitter. You can follow us on both of these platforms @CatholicBishops (Twitter) and as Catholic Bishops on Instagram.
Daily Lenten Prayer
Today Lord, I choose life,
I choose your love and the challenge to live it and share it,
I choose hope, even in moments of darkness,
I choose faith, accepting you as Lord and God,
I choose to let go of some part of my burdens,
day by day handing them over to you,
I choose to take hold of your strength and power ever more deeply in my life.
May this truly be for me a time of new life, of change, challenge and growth.
May I come to Easter with a heart open to dying with you
and rising to your new life, day by day.