What Is Lent?

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RCIA presenation on Lent, given by David Jensen at St. Patrick Catholic Church on 16 Feb 2010.

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What Is Lent?

  1. 1. What is Lent?
  2. 2. Opening Prayer Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
  3. 3. Overview • Origins and Purpose of Lent • Calls to Penance in the Bible • How Lent is Observed by the Church • Pope‟s Message for Lent
  4. 4. Origins and Purpose of Lent • “Lent” derives from Anglo-Saxon word lengten, which means “lengthen,” referring to the days of Spring • Lent = Season of prayer and penance to prepare for Easter • Originally 2 or 3 days of fasting, but 40 days was customary by the 4th century – United with Christ‟s 40-day fast in the desert (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:9-13, Lk4:1-14)
  5. 5. Calls to Penance in the Bible • “Now therefore, says the Lord, Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning” (Joel 2:12- 13) • “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2, cf. Mt 4:17) • “Do penance and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)
  6. 6. Calls to Penance in the Bible • Penance includes voluntary mortification – St. Paul: “I chastise my body and bring it into subjection.” (1 Cor 9:27) – “They who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.”(Gal 5:24) – “I now rejoice in my sufferings... and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church."(Col 1:24)
  7. 7. How Lent is Observed in the Church • Observed by encountering Christ, first and foremost in the Liturgy and Sacraments • John XXIII: “Clearly the most efficacious kind of prayer….is prayer that is offered publicly by the whole community; for Our Redeemer said: „Where two or three are gathered together for my sake, there am I in the midst of them.‟(Mt 18:20)”
  8. 8. How Lent is Observed in the Church • “The interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways. Scripture and the Fathers insist above all on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others” CCC 1434
  9. 9. Ash Laetere Wed (Rejoice) Feast of the Sunday Chair of St. Peter (mid-Lent) Fridays – Evening Prayer; Stations of the Cross Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Passion Mary Sunday (or Palm Sunday) Solemnity of the Beginning of Annunciation of the Holy Week Lord PaschalTriduum Easter Triduum Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper Good Friday – Veneration of the Cross Good Friday – Veneration of the Cross Easter Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil Mass Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil Mass Sunday
  10. 10. Pope‟s Message for Lent • “On the occasion of Lent, the Church invites us to a sincere review of our life in light of the teachings of the Gospel…. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift: we could say that man lives by that love which only God can communicate ….”
  11. 11. Pope‟s Message for Lent • “…Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God…Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil…. Indeed, man is weakened by an intense influence, which wounds his capacity to enter into communion with the other….”
  12. 12. Pope‟s Message for Lent • “…How can man free himself from this selfish influence and open himself to love?... we find a profound link between faith in God who „lifts the needy from the ash heap‟ (Ps 113,7) and justice towards one‟s neighbor….”
  13. 13. Pope‟s Message for Lent • “... In order to enter into justice, it is thus necessary to leave that illusion of self- sufficiency, the profound state of closure, which is the very origin of injustice. In other words, what is needed is…a liberation of the heart, which the Law on its own is powerless to realize…”
  14. 14. Pope‟s Message for Lent • “…it is not man‟s sacrifices that free him from the weight of his faults, but the loving act of God… Conversion to Christ, believing in the Gospel, ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self-sufficiency in order to discover and accept one‟s own need – the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship
  15. 15. Pope‟s Message for Lent • …humility is required to accept that I need Another [i.e. God] to free me from “what is mine,” to give me gratuitously “what is His.” This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ‟s action, we may enter into the „greatest‟ justice, which is that of love…” Pope Benedict XVI
  16. 16. Questions?
  17. 17. Closing Prayer Bless us O Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive, from thy bounty and through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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