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The Start of Lent

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Greetings. We are less than a week into our Lenten observances. Let’s continue our preparation for the season.

Never on a Sunday?

Is it permissible to forgo your Lenten sacrifices on Sunday? Every Sunday of the year is a celebration of the Resurrection – feast rather than fast. Yet certain Sundays carry a distinctive character of the season. Advent Sundays are anticipatory; Sundays of Easter are joyous; and the Sundays of Lent are more subdued. So it is a day to feast – it is a Sunday after all – but feasting with moderation. So basically the decision is up to the individual. Sunday does provide an escape clause but the clause is accompanied by asterisks. Take a break from the sacrifice if you need one but do so prudently (the goal of our sacrificing is dependency on God alone), and with temperance (you are trying to build self-discipline by sacrificing in the first place). 

Do the math!

Which is longer, 40 days or Lent? So there are six Sundays of Lent (6×7 =42). Add to this the half week that begins on Ash Wednesday and you have a total of 46 days. What gives? 

Let’s start at the end. The three days of the Sacred Triduum, that is Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are not days of Lent. They have a unique character that draws us deeper into the Paschal Mystery of our redemption. Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, serves the purpose of uniting our Lenten observances to the Paschal Mystery. We wave palms and welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as we follow into his footsteps and enter as well. The opening address on Palm Sunday carries this understanding: “Almighty ever-living God, sanctify these branches with your blessing, that we, who follow Christ the King in exultation, may reach the eternal Jerusalem through him.” 

We are left with forty-two days. Solemnities are the highest possible celebrations of the Church. Think of the word “solemn.” Sundays are solemnities, as are the six Holy Days of Obligations. There are five other solemnities during the Church year, two of which occur during Lent. The Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated this year on 20 March. It is transferred from the nineteenth since this year the nineteenth is a Sunday. The solemnity of the Annunciation is celebrated on 25 March. These two solemn days carry the same characteristic as a Sunday – a day to feast and not to fast. Forty-two less two equals forty. 

Pick up and read:

Hopefully Lent affords you the time for spiritual reading or readings from Sacred Scripture. The Passion Narratives in the Gospel would be an excellent companion during our journey to Jerusalem. They can be found at: 

St. Matthew, beginning at Chapter 21

St. Mark, beginning at Chapter 14

St. Luke, beginning at Chapter 19

St. John, beginning at Chapter 13

Later in the season it may be helpful to meditate upon the Seven Last Words of Christ.

John 19:26-27 cross reference with John 2:4-5

John 19:28 cross reference with Psalm 22:16, and Psalm 69:22

John 19:30 cross reference with John 4:34, and John 17:4

Luke 23:34 cross reference with Numbers 15:27-31, and Acts 7:60

Luke 23:43 cross reference with Revelation 2:7

Luke 23:46 cross reference with Psalm 31:6, and Acts 7:59

Matthew 27:46 cross reference with Mark 15:34, Isaiah 49:14, and Psalm 22:2

Blessings for this Lenten season!

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