The Season of Lent
The season of Lent is a forty day period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (acts of charity) to help Christians prepare spiritually for the commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week. The season has its roots in early Christianity when those guilty of serious sin were expelled from the Christian community to wear sackcloth and ashes and to make atonement for their sins. They were reconciled back to the community on Holy Thursday, in time for the celebration of the Paschal Triduum.
Today, Christians are marked with ashes on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday as a reminder of our own sinfulness and the need for God’s grace in our lives. The season of Lent also has its roots in early Christian Initiation when the catechumens were sent to the bishop for recognition and entered into an intense period of purification and enlightenment in preparation for their full initiation at Easter. The Church journeys with catechumens today during the season of Lent by preparing ourselves spiritually to renew our baptismal promises at Easter.
Bishop Bambera’s Reflection for Fourth Week of Lent
FASTING AND ABSTINENCE
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. Here are the guidelines for fasting and abstinence:
- For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59.
- When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
- If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.