Lent is a special time of prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter. Since the earliest times of the Church, there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter. Although the practices may have evolved over the centuries, the focus remains the same: to repent of sin, to renew our faith and to prepare to celebrate joyfully the mysteries of our salvation. Moreover, an emphasis must be placed on performing spiritual works, like attending the Stations of the Cross, attending Mass, making a weekly holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament, taking time for personal prayer and spiritual reading and most especially making a good confession and receiving sacramental absolution.
Lenten Fast and Abstinence
Abstinence from meat is observed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent by all Catholics 14 years and older. Fasting is observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by all Catholics who are 18 years of age but not yet 59. Those bound by this rule may take only one full meal. Two smaller meals are permitted as necessary to maintain strength according to one’s needs, but eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. From its earliest days, the Church has urged the baptized and catechumens to observe the threefold discipline of fasting, alms giving and prayer as a preparation for the celebration of Easter. Failure to observe individual days of penance is not considered serious, but failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial number of such days must be considered serious.
Abstinence from meat is observed on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent by all Catholics 14 years and older.
Lenten Regulations For The Diocese of Santa Rosa
- Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence, that is, limited to a single, full meal and abstinence from meat.
- The other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.
- The law of fasting permits only one full meal a day, but it does allow the taking of some food in the morning and a second light meal at noon or in the evening, as you prefer. Persons who have completed their eighteenth year to the beginning of their sixtieth (60) year are obligated to fast.
- The law of abstinence from meat applies to all persons who have completed their fourteenth year of age. However, it is highly recommended that children from ages seven to fourteen years also follow the law of abstinence.
- All Catholics are encouraged to receive Holy Eucharist frequently during Lent and to receive the Sacrament of Penance so that all may be prepared to celebrate more fully the paschal mystery. Those who have received their first Holy Communion are to receive Holy Communion during the Easter season.
- The determination of these days of obligatory penance, as listed above, should not be understood as limiting the occasions for Christian penance. This penance is to help us see and shorten the distance between our present lives and the life God wants for each of us. “Penance should not be only internal and individual but external and social.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #110)
- Marriages may be celebrated with Mass and the nuptial blessing should always be given. It is, however, contrary to the spirit of penance during Lent to plan an elaborate wedding with lavish decorations.
“Penance should not be only internal and individual but external and social.”
pope francis’s lenten message
Pope Francis focuses on the three theological virtues in his Lenten message for 2021, inviting the faithful to “renew our faith, draw from the living waters of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God.”
Grounding his reflection on the Paschal Mystery, the Pope says, “This Lenten journey… is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Jesus.”
He goes on to say that the journey of conversion, through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, “makes it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope, and effective charity.”
Our Favorite Lenten Videos
We have searched the web and compiled our favorite videos about Ash Wednesday and Lent.
They are short and to the point.
We invite you to take a look for yourself. If you have your own favorites. Use the contact us page to let us know and we may include them.
Stations of the Cross
Live or Online
The Stations of the Cross are offered every Friday during Lent at Sacred Heart Church. The English language celebration is at 5:30 pm and the Spanish at 7:00 pm.
There are many sites that offer The Stations of the Cross online. We recommend the Busted Halo site because if offers the chance to view each station separately or you can download a video with all the stations.
The Stations of the Cross is a devotion following the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. Prayers accompanying it allow time to reflect on the mystery of his death. Originally the Stations of the Cross was an actual physical journey in and around Jerusalem. Later the series was symbolized in outdoor shrines, and today many parishes display artistic representations in their sanctuaries.
Busted Halo has created a series of virtual stations designed for personal devotion. These stations relate to Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom of God and the reason his vision of this Kingdom led to his death. Find a quiet place to watch these stations, and as you do the devotions be open to how God is speaking to you through the Stations of the Cross.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops “What Is Lent?”
This is by far the best and most comprehensive site for everything you would want to know about Lent.
Loyola Resources For Your Lenten Journey
Lent means many things to many people. Whether you are seeking solemnity, renewal, or rejuvenation, the resources on this page offer inspiring insights for your observance of Lent.
Ignatian Resources For Lent
Lent is a season of repentance and renewal. We turn away from our sinfulness and recommit ourselves to following Jesus. Ignatian contemplation and reflective prayer encourage us in the season of Lent. Link to our Ignatian resources for Lent.
Praying Lent This Year
Lent offers us all a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life, rooted in our baptism. In our busy world, Lent provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our patterns, to pray more deeply, experience sorrow for what we’ve done and failed to do, and to be generous to those in need.
We offer resources here to assist our entry into this wonderful season, from our preparing to begin Lent to our preparing to celebrate the holy three days following Lent.
Lenten Activities For Children
Lent is a great liturgical season to observe with kids to help teach them about the church year. Lent is the 40 days the come before Easter, and it is a season of adding extra prayers, fasting, and almsgiving. There are many ways to celebrate (or observe) Lent with children, and this is my page that links out to all of the resources I have available to help you with this!
History of Lent
What are the origins of Lent? Did the Church always have this time before Easter?
Pretzels & Lent
Find out the connection between pretzels and Lent and get their recipe for your own Lenten activity.
Hot Cross Buns & Lent
Every liturgical season has its own special traditions and customs. The more common Lenten traditions are ashes on Ash Wednesday, the palms of Palm Sunday, the Rice Bowl for almsgiving, and the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, usually each Friday of Lent. Another way of teaching about Lent is Hot Cross Buns. They are only available during the Lenten season, most often on Ash Wednesday and certainly Good Friday. Use the link to read their history and get recipes.