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.
Ash Wednesday – 2 March – @12:15pm
Lent may originally have followed Epiphany, just as Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness followed immediately on his baptism, but it soon became firmly attached to Easter, as the principal occasion for baptism and for the reconciliation of those who had previously been excluded from the Church’s fellowship. This history explains the characteristic notes of Lent – self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for Easter, to which almsgiving has traditionally been added.
As the candidates for baptism were instructed in Christian faith, and as penitents prepared themselves, through fasting and penance, to be readmitted to communion, the whole Christian community was invited to join them in the process of study and repentance, the extension of which over forty days would remind them of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, being tested by Satan.
The calculation of the forty days has varied considerably in Christian history. Liturgical dress is the simplest possible and churches are often kept bare of flowers and decoration.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent (often known as ‘Refreshment Sunday’) was allowed as a day of relief from the rigour of Lent, and the Feast of the Annunciation almost always falls in Lent; these breaks from austerity are the background to the modern observance of Mothering Sunday on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
As Holy Week approaches, the atmosphere of the season darkens; the readings begin to anticipate the story of Christ’s suffering and death, and the reading of the Passion Narrative gave to the Fifth Sunday its name of Passion Sunday.
Stations of the cross – Saturday’s from 12noon:
- 19 March (Lent 2),
- 2 April (Lent 4),
- 9 April (Lent 5)
- & 16 April (Holy Saturday)
Palm Sunday – Sunday 10 April @10am