Ash Wednesday

Lent 101

When Does Lent 2016 Start?
Lent starts every year on Ash Wednesday, which is February 10, 2016.

When Does Lent 2016 End?
As a liturgical season, Lent ends on Holy Thursday, immediately before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper that evening, when the Easter Triduum begins.

How Long is Lent?
Lent extends for a period of 40 days. (Actually, it is 46 days long, but the 6 Sundays of Lent are not included, as the Church’s ancient tradition is to not observe Lenten fast on a day of rejoicing.)

Why 40 Days?
For Israel, the number 40 symbolized a period of testing or judgement. The rain of Noah was 40 days. Israel wandered 40 years in the desert. Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert.

Why Do We Put Ashes On Our Forehead?
This act symbolizes our mortality as well as our need for ongoing repentance. It is a reminder that this life is short and merely a foreshadowing of what we shall become through the redemption of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Why Do We Fast and Abstain?
We abstain from meat on Friday as a way of reminding ourselves of Jesus’ death for us all on Good Friday. There are many reasons for fasting, one of which is to unite ourselves in prayer with Jesus who fasted during His 40 days in the desert.

Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat (and items made with meat) on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent.

Every person between the age of 18 and 60 must fast (to eat less food) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Every person 14 years of age or older must abstain from meat on all other Fridays of the year, unless he or she substitutes some other form of penance for abstinence.

Why Do We Give Alms During Lent?
Proverbs 19:17 “One who gives to the poor, it is like giving to the Lord Himself.” Care for the poor especially during Lent gives witness to the changing of one’s life.

Why Do We Omit the Alleluia and Gloria During Lent?
Alleluia comes to us from Hebrew; it means “praise Yahweh.” and it like the Gloria is an expression of angelic joy. During Lent, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do.

Why Do We Give Up Something For Lent?
It is about self-denial, carrying our cross and following Jesus. It is something that’s done in a prayerful way, so that we can wholly renew ourselves in Christ. It is all about conversion.

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