Lent

Lent started on Ash Wednesday, which this year fell on 17 February.
 

Cardinal Vincent Nichols has spoken about Lent and in particular about this year's Ash Wednesday:

"I now want to emphasise an important point. Receiving ashes is an outward sign of an inner step, a movement of the heart towards our beloved Lord. This year I invite you to concentrate much more on this inner, spiritual movement than on its outward manifestation in the imposition of ashes."

How will you use this season of Lent, this special time of prayer, fasting and alms-giving in preparation for the celebration of Easter?

Hands in prayer
Prayer

For most of us, it's useful to have a structure on which to base our prayer, and Lent is a good time to look at our prayer patterns. 

For some, taking time out for a weekly Lent group or an online day retreat helps them to refocus. For others a daily reflection in their inbox is just what they need. A meditation on the Stations of the Cross can be done just as well at home as in church.

There is a selection of suggested resources for you to choose from. If you need some help in choosing something, just ask.

 

Fasting

Fasting refers primarily to eating less. See the 'Fasting and Abstinence' box on this page for more information about fasting from food.

Giving things up during Lent is another way of practising discipline. By exercising self-control, we can free our minds from desires for material possessions and pleasures, and focus on the true happiness that can only come from faith and Jesus Christ.

Fasting on bread and water
Lent-almsgiving2.jpg
Alms-giving

Alms-giving traditionally refers to charitable giving: money.

 

However, taking on a new charitable activity is also a good thing to do. It could be as simple as keeping in touch better with people during the lockdown, or it might be a bigger project.

* *  Lent - what will you do?  * *

Read more about Lent and the importance of the three Lenten disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Alms-giving at Loyola Press.

See the Lent Resources page for suggestions about Lent courses and other aids to deepening your prayer life.

A cross on a purple background
Fasting and Abstinence

Catholics, as a group, are required to fast on only two days of the year - Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. 

Fasting means that the amount of food we eat is considerably reduced. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity.

Catholics abstain on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays. Abstinence means not eating meat.

Read more

Lenten calendar

February

17    Ash Wednesday
S
tart of Lent - a day of fasting and abstinence.
26    Family Fast Day

March

14    4th Sunday of Lent - Laetare Sunday - Mothering Sunday

28    Palm Sunday

April

  1    Maundy Thursday

  2    Good Friday - a day of fasting and abstinence

  3    Holy Saturday

  4    Easter Sunday