Lent begins on Ash Wednesday

 “Shake off all your sins – it is the Lord who speaks – and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.” (Ez: 18:31)

Ash Wednesday

The season of Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. It is an opportunity for us to grow in our awareness of God’s presence in our lives. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, and yet it is one of the days during the liturgical year on which very large numbers of people participate in the ceremony of the distribution of ashes.

Ashes were an ancient symbol of repentance; they remind us of our mortality. On this day we recognize our human frailty. When we are marked with ashes we acknowledge our need to change ourselves at a deeper level and our willingness to enter into Lent as a time during which we will strive towards an inner conversion of heart.

Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you will return
[Genesis 3:19]

Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.
[Mark 1:15]


Responsorial Psalm for Ash Wednesday

Have mercy on me God in your kindness
In your compassion blot out my offence
O wash me more and more from my guilt
And cleanse me from my sin

A pure heart create for me, O God

Put a steadfast spirit within me
Do not cast me away from your presence
Nor deprieve me of your holy spirit

My offences truly I know them

My sin is always before me
Against you, you alone, have I sinned:
What is evil in your sight I have done.

Give me again the joy of your help;

With a spirit of fervour sustain me,
O Lord open my lips
And my mouth shall declare your praise

(Ps. 50:3-6.12-14.17)

Did you know that …?

The word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for spring -‘lencten’ (lengthening). It is a time during which the earth shows signs of change and growth. Lent is a time during which we undertake a spiritual journey lasting six weeks; a time of spiritual growth for ourselves.

The forty days of Lent reflect the traditions of the Scriptures: the forty days of the flood; the forty days during which the Israelites wandered in the desert; the forty days which Jesus spent in the desert after his baptism.

In the letter to Timothy St. Paul’s advice was to:

“Train yourself in godliness for while physical training is of some value godliness is valuable in every way,
holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”.

(2 Tim.4:7-8)

Lent is traditionally the time for those wishing to become members of the Church to prepare for Baptism. In the early Church penitents (those doing public penance for serious sin), together with the rest of the Christian community, accompanied these ‘catechumens’ in their spiritual journey and prepared themselves to renew their baptismal vows at Easter.

In our Church today those wishing to become Catholics follow the traditions of the early Church by participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. We too can journey with them in their preparation for baptism by opening our own hearts and minds to self examination and self discipline during these weeks before Easter.


First Week Of Lent

Jesus said to his disciples: “In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you would pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,

May your name be held holy,

your kingdom come,

your will be done’

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive those who are in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test,

But save us from the evil one.

Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either”.

(Gospel reading for the first Tuesday in Lent).


Second Week of Lent

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back”.

(Gospel reading for the second Monday of Lent)


Third Week of Lent

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else.

“Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here, I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get’.

The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner’.

This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Luke 18:9-14)

(Gospel reading for the third Saturday of Lent)


Fourth Week Of Lent

Some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is speaking freely and they have nothing to say to him!”

Then as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:

“Yes you know me and you know where I have come from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him; and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him, and it was he who sent me”.

They would have arrested him then. But because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.

(John 7:25. 28-30)

(From the Gospel reading for the fourth Friday in Lent)


Fifth Week of Lent

“You say to someone the Father has consecrated and sent into the world:

‘You are blaspheming’, because he says ‘I am the Son of God’.

If I am not doing my Father’s work, there is no need to believe in me;

at least believe in the work I do; then you will know for sure that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”.


(From the Gospel reading for the fifth Friday in Lent.)


CEIST Resource

A Blessing

A Guide to Lent and Easter for Young People

A Lenten Litany

A Lenten Reflection

Ash Wednesday

First Palm Sunday Lenten Resources

Lenten Assemblies

Lenten Prayers

Lenten resources

Sounds of the Cross (Part 1) Good Friday

Sounds of the Cross (Part 2) The Resurrection

Stations of the Cross