Our Faith In Pictures: Lent
Lent is a penitential season beginning on Ash Wednesday, which falls on Feb. 14 this year, and ending on Holy Thursday, which falls on March 29. It is a roughly 40-day period of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Why is the color purple associated with Lent? Priests wear purple vestments and the church is bedecked in purple during this season as a sign of penance, sacrifice and preparation. Traditionally, Catholics prayerfully focus on Jesus’ passion and death during this season, often by praying the Stations of the Cross or meditating before a crucifix.
The 40 days of Lent are approximate. This year the number of days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Thursday is 44 including Sundays and 38 without. Although Sundays are not days of fasting and penance, they are still counted among the days of the Lenten season (e.g., the First Sunday of Lent), as is the extra day in February during each leap year. The Easter Triduum, the three-day period beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, is not part of the Lenten season. It is considered a single liturgical celebration that marks the end of Lent and culminates in Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil.
Lent is popularly known as the season in which Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays. Did you know that Catholics used to abstain from meat on Fridays year-round? Many still do. According to Church teaching, every Friday is a day of penance, and those who choose eat meat on Fridays outside of Lent are called to substitute another penitential practice on those Fridays.
(This post is excerpted and modified from the article “Living Lent As a Family” by Jim Thorp.)
Daily Lenten Reflections
- Best Lent Ever (Dynamic Catholic website)
- Lent Reflections with Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire website – en español)
- Living Lent Daily (Loyola Press website)
Lenten Resources for Individuals and Families
What Is Lent?
- Lent in 3 Minutes (Busted Halo video)
- Where Is Lent in the Bible? (Fr. Mike Schmitz video)
- Three Practices of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving (Bishop Robert Barron video)
- Introduction to Lent: Prayer (Catholic Education Resource Center article)
- Introduction to Lent: Fasting (Catholic Education Resource Center article)
- Introduction to Lent: Almsgiving (Catholic Education Resource Center article)
Preparing for Lent
- Preparing for Lent (Fr. Mike Schmitz video)
- Preparing for the Best Lent (Catholic Exchange article)
- Lent: 40 Ideas to Get More Out of the Season (Crossroads Initiative article – en español)
- Why Fast on Ash Wednesday? (Fr. Mike Schmitz video)
- On the Attraction of Ash Wednesday (Catholic Education Resource Center article)
Fasting and Abstinence
- An Illustrated Guide to Fasting and Abstinence (FOCUS graphic)
- Four Reasons for Fasting (Fr. Mike Schmitz video)
- Lent and Fasting (Catholic Education Resource Center article)
Family Resources and Activities
- Your Guide to a Catholic Lent (Our Sunday Visitor webpage)
- Lenten Activities for Children (Catholic Icing blog post)
- Fasting, Giving, Praying: 25+ Ideas for What Kids and Teens Can Do for Lent (Peanut Butter and Grace blog post)
- Scriptural Stations of the Cross (USCCB webpage)
- Six Ways to Evangelize During Lent (USCCB article)