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LENT 2024


For the Christian believer, Lent is the time of preparation for Easter and it commemorates the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning His public ministry where He endured temptation.  During Lent – through prayer, penance (including participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession), acts of charity and self-denial – we are called to renewal of our Christian life in preparation for Easter.


Prayer


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.


Fasting and Penance


Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful.  It arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance.  Christians undertake penance: in memory of the Passion and death of Jesus; as a sharing in Christ’s suffering; as an expression of inner conversion; as a form of reparation for sin. 



Charity


Traditionally 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, for example, contributing to their Trócaire box.  



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 – 14 February 2024


Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the liturgical 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 if the lifeblood of fasting.  If we have not all three together, we have nothing,’ says Saint Peter Chrysologus.

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