The purpose of Lent is to prepare Christians for the annual celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord, that is the paschal triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the first Eucharist of Easter.
Ash Wednesday is the principal day of penitence in the Christian year, for we have to face the need for it and then express it first if Lent is to be a time for spiritual renewal and growth.
The Eucharist contains some special points to note beyond the ordinary:
- The words of introduction that invite the people to “the observance of a holy Lent”
- A significant period of silence for self-examination and confession after hearing the scripture readings rather than at the beginning of the liturgy
- The signing of the people with the cross with ash from the burnt palm crosses as a reminder of mortality and our fallen condition.
- The prayer of forgiveness leading to the Liturgy of the Sacrament.