Spring Clean

Lent is a season of penance, reflection and fasting which prepares us for Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Add an intention to our Lenten Prayer Tree, and pray also for others and their intentions.

Pope Francis:
‘In life we all make many mistakes. Let us learn to recognise our errors and ask forgiveness.’ (on Twitter)

‘Forgiveness of our sins is not something we can give ourselves...The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing...I tell you, each time we go to confession, God embraces us. God rejoices! Let us go forward on this road. May God bless you!’ (at a general audience in 2014)

desert

The Meaning of Lent

The English word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning ‘Spring’. In other languages (French carême, Italian quaresima, Spanish cuaresma) the word comes from the Latin, Quadragesima – a period of 40 days. In the Christian tradition, the 40 days is understood to refer to a time of intense prayer and preparation; we remember the biblical stories of Noah and the flood of 40 days, the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and Christ’s 40-day fast in the desert in preparation for his earthly ministry.

Why we do penance

Penance arises from the Lord’s call to conversion and repentance and is an essential part of all genuine Christian living:

  • in memory of the passion and death of the Lord
  • as a sharing in Christ’s suffering
  • as an expression of inner conversion
  • as a form of reparation for sin.

Lent is the traditional season for renewal and penance but Catholics also observe each Friday of the year as days of penance. The link between Friday and penance is extremely ancient and is even reflected in the Irish word for Friday – An Aoine (the fast).

Some suggestions on observing Friday Penance during Lent are:

  • Make a special effort at family prayer
  • Make the Stations of the Cross
  • Do something to help the poor, sick or lonely
  • Make a special effort to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Abstain from meat or some other food.

Why we receive ashes on Ash Wednesday

‘Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return.’

Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us to develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice. The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. While the ashes symbolise penance and contrition, they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. His Divine mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during the entire Lenten season with reflection, prayer and penance.

(from www.catholicbishops.ie; or visit the Lent page on Facebook)

 

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Today’s Mass Readings
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Meditation on the Stations of the Cross
1. Jesus is condemned to death. Do I ever criticise others, blame others? Do I recognise my own fault before I look for the faults of others?
2. Jesus takes up the Cross. Do I accept crosses or burdens in my life without complaint? Do I ever load burdens onto others?
3. Jesus falls the first time. When I fall or make mistakes do I get up again or am I inclined to give up?
4. Jesus meets his mother. Do I recognise the hurt even unintentional that my life can cause to others especially those I love the most?
5. Simon helps Jesus carry the Cross. Am I always grateful to those who offer me help or who share a burden with me?
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus. Do I always recognise Christ’s image in others and can others see the image of Christ in me?
7. Jesus falls the second time. If at first I don’t succeed do I keep trying – do I persevere?
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem. Even when I’m weighed down by the difficulties of my own life am I always ready and willing to help others and to put their needs before my own?
9. Jesus falls the third time. Am I ever the cause of others falling or do I comment on the faults or failures of others?
10. Jesus is stripped of his garments. Am I willing to deprive myself of attachment to material things to give more time to God?
11. Jesus is nailed to the Cross. Can I bear pain without always seeking instant relief? Am I ever guilty of causing pain to others?
12. Jesus dies on the Cross. Am I willing to die to my own sinfulness and selfishness? Do I always want my own way?
13. Jesus is taken down from the Cross. Have I a devotion to Mary in my life? As Jesus gave us His Mother from the Cross do I accept Mary as my Heavenly Mother who intercedes for me?
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb. Do I live my life in such a way that I can be confident the grave will not be the end for me but that I will share in Christ’s Resurrection?
 
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