Once again, it is time for our Aggie Catholics annual Lenten mega-post. Links, videos, and resources will be added and updated throughout the Lenten season. Please leave your feedback and anything that needs to be added in the comments. Thanks for reading.
Things you will find below include:
- LENT FAQ
- MORE QUESTIONS ON LENT
- LENTEN SUGGESTIONS
- LENT LINKS
When Does Lent Start in 2012?
Lent starts on Ash Wed, Feb 22 and ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which is the beginning of the Triduum. Easter Sunday is April 8.
What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is now a part of our Church's liturgical calendar and a season of conversion for all. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God.
Are Sundays a part of Lent?
Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days. While still part of the season of Lent, they have a mixture of both celebration (because it is Sunday) and repentance (because it is Lent).
Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you are not required to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping! Since the Church has some conflicting information (different documents state different things) I think you should do what you feel is best regarding the Lenten season and Sundays. In other words, follow your conscience.
Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
- *Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
- Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
- *Jesus, before starting his ministry, spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).
What is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
- "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
- Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21
So, why are the ashes made into a cross on the forehead?
Because it is the ancient sign of being marked by Christ in our baptism. We are no longer our own, but Jesus Christ owns us. The book of Revelation tells us that all the elect will be marked by the sign of Christ - "On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (Rev 14:1)
Where do we get the ashes?
They come from burning the palms from last years Palm Sunday Masses.
Who can receive ashes?
Anyone can receive ashes on Ash Wed. While we have communion only for Catholics who are in good standing with the Church, all may receive ashes.
Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season.
Do we have to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wed?
Yes. This means that all Catholics from 14 and up are required to abstain from meat and Catholics 18-60 are required to eat only one average meal and two snacks without anything else. Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not obligated to do this.
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
- "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)
- "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
- Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food and needed more by all of us than anything else.
Why is fish not considered meat?
Because it was the food of the poor who could not afford meat, yet could catch fish to sustain themselves.
So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from meat, this is because Christ died on a Friday.
So, why do people "give up" things during Lent?
While we are not required to “give something up” we are required to do something penitential. Lent is a great time to break a bad habit and give it to the Lord. These sins and vices we should not take back after Lent. It is also a time to give something up that is good during this season. This is why people give up something they enjoy. In doing so we can draw closer to God by our temporary sacrifice. We should find an appropriate balance of giving something up and not completely cutting ourselves off of good things. We will find our need for God if we do it correctly.
What else then IS required during Lent?
The Church asks us to increase our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is assumed that we are already doing these things and should merely increase them.
Got any suggestions?
First off, pray about what you are going to do for Lent. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your spiritual practice of Lent. Then find a few things that you feel called to do. Don't do too much or too little. Stretch yourself, but don't pick things you won't stick to.
MORE LENT QUESTIONS
- Wake up 20 minutes early and start the day in prayer.
- Daily Mass 1-2 times a week.
- An hr. in Adoration a week.
- Go to Confession.
- Read Scripture daily.
- Go to a Lenten Bible study.
- Read a spiritual book.
- Start to pray a daily Rosary.
- Pray the Liturgy of the hours.
- Pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.
- Stations of the Cross on Fridays.
- Pray for your enemies.
- Watch The Passion of the Christ and then meditate on Christ’s life.
- Read about the life of a saint.
- Do an extra spiritual activity at Church
- Get involved in your parish if you aren’t already.
- Memorize Scripture verses.
- Check out a book on spirituality from the parish library.
- When you fast from a meal, give the money you would spend to the poor.
- Use a coin box from and put all change into it for the poor.
- Volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul or another charitable organization.
- Spend more time with your parents.
- Visit a nursing home.
- Start tithing.
- Make a pledge to a worthy charity.
- Forgive an old grudge.
- Invite someone to Church.
- Share your faith with someone.
- Give someone a Catholic tract or CD.
- Exercise patience and love.
- Speak in a pleasant tone to everyone.
- Look for extra ways to help others.
- Go out of your way to talk to someone who is shy or difficult.
- Offer to watch a mother’s child(ren).
- Drive with love.
- Write a letter to a relative you haven’t seen in a while.
The following are good things we can fast from and have back at a later time:
- Fast on bread and water on Fridays.
- Fast from TV.
- Fast from snacking or candy.
- Fast from the radio in your car.
- Fast from Facebook, Twitter, and/or the internet. (NOTE: if you do decide to fast from Facebook, we have some free profile pictures you can use to show others what you are doing) - one example is the pic below, for more click here.
- Fast from caffeine.
- Do not use seasoning on your food.
- Fast from alcohol (You should not drink at anytime if you abuse alcohol or are not yet 21).
- Fast from speeding.
- Fast from sarcasm or gossip.
- Fast from envying what others have.
- Fast from being lazy or procrastination.
- Fast from not studying / working hard.
- Fast from complaining.
- Fast from some other bad habit.
Here is a list of links about lent. If you have any to add, then leave in the comments or shoot me an email.
- Pope Benedict's Lent 2012 message.
- Pope Benedict's Lent 2011 message.
- Pope Benedict's Lent 2010 message.
- Pope Benedict's Lent 2009 message.
- USCCB - Lent 2011 resources.
- Catholic Relief Services - Official Lenten giving program of CRS - Operation Rice Bowl.
- Way of the Cross with Pope Benedict XVI.
- The Vatican's Lenten music.
- Pope Benedict's Ash Wed. 2011 Address.
- Pope Benedict's Ash Wed. 2010 Address.
- Bishop Ricken Offers 10 Things to Remember for Lent.
Prayers, History, Lenten Suggestions:
- EWTN.com - Lenten reflections, questions, and more.
- AmericanCatholic.org - Lent 2011 pages
- Creighton University - Lenten prayers.
- Catholic Encyclopedia - entry on Lent
- Catholic Culture - Personal Lenten program.
- Our Sunday Visitor - Lenten resources.
- Catholic Online - Lenten resources.
- Jimmy Akin - all about Lent.
- EWTN's Stations of the cross.
- Jimmy Akin's Annual Lent Fight - good stuff if you like details.
- "Great Lent" by Thomas Howard.
- "Lent: Why that Christian Must Deny Himself" by Br. Austin G. Murphy, O.S.B.
- Lent and the "Our Father": The Path of Prayer by Carl E. Olson.
- Byzantine Catholic - Lenten resources for Byzantine Catholics.
- Suggestions for Lenten Activities.
- DomesticChurch.com - exploring Lent.
- Catholic Pages - Lenten links.
- National Catholic Register - Fasting for lent.
- 40 Ways to improve your Lent.
- Fasting from Suspicion, Idolization, and Demonization.
- North American College - the Station Churches of Rome for Lent.
- Aquinas and More Catholic Goods - Lent store.
- Lent and the Corporal Works of Mercy.
- Fr. Jerabek offers a Lenten reading plan.
- Thomas Peters recommends "The Gargoyle Code" for Lenten Reading.
- Pray the Spiritual Exercises during Lent.
- 40 Lenten Resolutions by Sherry Antonetti.
- Catholic Mom Lenten resources.
- Faith & Family lent blogs.
- Jen Fulwiler's recommended Lenten reading.
- Free online books to read for Lent.
- Jimmy has all the Church laws on eating during Lent (or not eating).
- The Anchoress tells us about Lent.
- Don't Waste Lent.
- Give Up TV for Lent.
- Deacon Greg's Ash Wed. Homily 2010
- The Day After Fat Tuesday
- Matt Warner - And To Dust You Shall Return.
- Fr. Dwight's homily gets a boy to Spend Lent In a Tent.
- How Real Are Your Ashes?
- The Instinct of Repentance.
- A Brief History of Lent.
- Penance and Reparation.
Catholic New Media on Lent:
- The Pope says Lent is a time of silence.
- The Pope is once again drawing attention to those who are hungry and poor throughout the world for our reflection during Lent 2010.
- Cardinal Rigali gave a series of reflections on Lent in 2007 starting with this video.
- 3 Minutes a Day Retreat from Loyola Press.
- Get a free booklet and CD on the Stations of the Cross Meditations. Patrick Madrid has details.
- Videos - "Lent is a Catholic thing" and "What are Catholics Doing for Lent"
- iPadre Lenten podcasts.
- Catholic.net Lent podcasts.
Fr. Barron on Lent:
Archbishop Chaput on Lent:
Archbishop Gomez on Ash Wed and Lent:
Listen and Pray along - Allegri: Miserere:
Please help me find more by putting links in the comments. Thanks.