Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent, the 6th March this year. It is a holy day of prayer, fasting, abstinence and participation in Holy Mass. During the Ash Wednesday Mass, we receive ashes on our forehead with words such as ‘Repent and believe the gospel’ or ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’.
Ash Wednesday Masses:
- 9.30am St. Alban’s School
- 11.00am St. Alban’s Church
- 7.00pm St. Hugh’s Church
Our Lenten Journey
Our personal Lenten journey is for 40 days and 40 nights beginning at midnight on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Saturday. Sundays are not included in the observance period as Sundays are the day of the Lord’s resurrection! Interestingly the church doesn’t mandate giving up anything in Lent. If you wish to thats a choice for you to make. The three pillars of Lent are; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
For some christians prayer can be the most difficult challenge. Yes, we pray when at Mass, but often daily prayer routines fall by the wayside due to other life pressures. Lent provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on prayer. Maybe once a day, or twice a day: include the church, family, the needy and reflect on our own errors or ommissions.
There are many helps to prayer, you can download the app Universalis to your smartphone or tablet and pick one of the daily offices of the church to pray (there are free trial versions availble). If time is an issue, maybe just pray a Glory be, an Our Father and some have time for personal reflection each day?
Fasting is the second pillar of Lent. These days the (Latin Rite) Catholic Church only has two days a year that fasting and abstinence is required. These are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting isn’t as strict as some people imagaine, with one main meal still allowed and then maybe two small meals but no snacks in between. Some people have their own discipline of spending the time in prayer instead of eating, and putting the cost of the meal to one side as a donation (alms).
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of abstinence as well as every Friday during Lent. Abstinence is about removing something that is costly, meat is traditionally that item, with the poor often not able to afford meat. Abstinence is typically the way that can help us keep solidarity with the poor.
Almsgiving, the third pillar, is really just another name for charitable giving. So during Lent extra giving is what catholics do, it’s a way of showing love for our neighbour. There have been many things said about alms by our church leaders and saints over the years. Principally its about giving freely and generoursly and not making a big show.
So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win human admiration. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
Whats Going On
We have so much going on during Lent and the Easter Holy Week that for sure you will be able to find something to take part with. Have a look through the document below and update your calendar or diary.