By Sarah Mac Donald - 05 March, 2014
Archbishop Eamon Martin has launched a new online calendar for Lent 2014 which begins today Ash Wednesday, 5 March.
Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence, while Lent lasts for forty days in commemoration of the forty days, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry.
It was during this period that Jesus endured temptation.
Speaking about Lent, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Chair of the Council for Communications of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said, “Lent is the most solemn season for the Catholic Church and it culminates in the high-point of our liturgical calendar: Easter Sunday.”
“With the help of the word of God and the sacraments, Lent is a time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community. With this in mind, our new Lenten calendar is a resource to assist the faithful in preparing for Easter.”
Archbishop Martin concluded, “For many years we have provided online resources to assist with our Lenten preparations, but this year we offer the faithful a new online calendar for this purpose.”
“The calendar is designed for people of all ages as a user-friendly resource to help explain the significant season of Lent.”
“The online calendar seeks to guide us as we prepare spiritually for the joy and hope which comes with the Easter season. During the season of Lent, I invite everyone to visit and avail of the information provided by our online calendar.”
The Lenten calendar can be accessed online up to Holy Saturday 19 April on the homepage of catholicbishops.ie
New information will be revealed each day of Lent by clicking on a virtual numerical door, and this will include:
– daily Mass readings and reflections
– excerpts from Pope Francis’ message for Lent and from Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)
– Lenten tweets from Pope Francis and other Church sources
– Prayers and Pastoral Letters for Lent
– Suggestions on observing Friday Penance during Lent
– Explanations of Lent and Lenten practices including multimedia resources
– Events taking place in parishes and dioceses across Ireland during Lent
– Details of Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign for 2014 which is themed: ‘Water’
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter. Through prayer, penance (including participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession), acts of charity and self-denial we are called to renewal of our Christian life in preparation for Easter:
The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed. As well as giving something up it is becoming more common to take something up as well and this may include taking time to volunteer, or spending more time in prayer.
Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful. It arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance. Christians do penance: in memory of the Passion and death of our Lord; as a sharing in Christ’s suffering; as an expression of inner conversion; as a form of reparation for sin. The faithful are asked to renew their practice of Friday Penance by undertaking some of the following:
– abstain from meat or some other food
– make a special effort to participate in Mass on Fridays (in addition to Sunday)
– make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament
– abstain from alcoholic drink or smoking
– make a special effort to spend time together in family prayer
– make the Stations of the Cross
– fast from all food for a longer period than usual and give what is saved to the needy
– help someone who is sick, old or lonely.
Traditionally during Lent many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence, the money saved from this can be donated to charity, for example, contributing to the Trócaire box.