The Season of Lent
Ash Wednesday is also known as the 'Day of Ashes'. It marks the beginning of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting and abstinence for Christians. The length of the Lenten fast was established in the 4th century as forty days, commencing on Ash Wednesday. The tradition on this day is that the faithful attend church, where they receive ashes in the shape of the cross on their forehead.
Ashes have been used for thousands of years as a sign of repentance (being sorry for our sins by doing something). When people were considered to have sinned they wanted to show that they were sorry they chose something that normally would cause shame and embarrassment to show that they were embarrassed and ashamed by their sins.
In the early Christian church people who had sinned were allowed back to church at Easter time but first they had to do 40 days of fast and prayer to show that they were again ready to follow Jesus.
After the 40 days they were allowed to re-join and take communion on Holy Thursday night - so the 40 days of penance began on a Wednesday.
Later it became the practice that everybody joined in to show that each person needs to turn away from sin - the ashes were traced in the form of a cross to show that the person belonged to Christ. Words are used to ask people to think about their lives. The ashes are from burning of the palms that were used for Palm Sunday, the day that people welcomed Jesus as King.
By burning them, Christians are reminded that the same crowd wanted Him crucified days later, so by putting ashes on your forehead, you are reminded that you should be embarrassed about some of the things you do and by having it in the shape of the cross. You show that you believe that Jesus can make things better.
Ash Wednesday begins Lent which is our time to make things right to think about what we do that is wrong and sinful and to show people we want to change
The Season of Lent
- Lent means Spring
- Lent is the period of six weeks leading up to Easter; the most important festival in the Christian calendar.
- It starts on Ash Wednesday and finishes during Easter Week.
- Lent 2017 begins on Wednesday 1st March - Sunday 16th April 2017
Why do we celebrate Lent?
We celebrate Lent, remembering Jesus, who spent forty days and nights in the desert, without food or drink. Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray in preparation for his ministry.
It is the time when Christians prepare for Easter by thinking of the things they have done wrong.
There are three elements in Lent:
During Lent, we are encouraged to pray more.
- Family and friends
- Those who are less well off than ourselves
- The sins that we have committed
- Those who are sick
What else could you do during Lent?
- Go to mass more
- Go to the College Chapel more
During Lent, we give up the food we love as a sacrifice.
What could you give up for Lent?
- Fizzy drinks
During Lent, we must think about giving more to those who are in need.
- We can give money to charities, give old clothes, make hampers etc.
- We aim to fundraise for Trocaire
A Lenten Reflection
- A time to struggle with our selfishness.
- A time to struggle with our lack-lustre performance on many fronts, a time to improve.
- A time to struggle with insensitivity in our dealings with family, with teachers, with friends.
- A time to struggle with attitudes that are negative.
- A time to struggle against our compulsions to eat too much, to smoke, to waste time, to talk too much, to talk too little.
- A time to struggle with the things that knock us off the path of friendship with God.
- A time to struggle to be more of what we might be.
- A time to struggle to life our life-act onto a new level.
- A time for new timetables and good resolutions.
- Jesus struggled. An inner struggle, inner turmoil, inner distress.
- The kind of struggle that drives people mad.
- Or the kind of struggle that makes saints.