Lent and Holy Week

A Time for New Habits

Jesus told his followers:

Make sure you don’t pray or fast or give to the poor, just so others will see you. Instead, give to the poor so quietly even your best friends won’t notice. Go off by yourself and pray to your Father quietly. And, when you fast, don’t pretend to look sad. Wash your face and comb your hair. This way, you’ll shine quietly before God. And your Father who sees how you do these things will reward you.

Based on Matthew 6:2a, 3, 6, 16a, 17

Praying. Fasting. Giving to the poor. These are three ways to help us love God and others more. When we pray, we can get closer to God. When we fast, we give up food or activities or privileges; fasting helps stop selfishness. When we give to the poor, we share the good things we have with those in need. The Church asks us to focus on all three activities during the season of Lent.

The forty days of Lent help us to prepare for Easter, the greatest Sunday of all! Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and lasts five and a half weeks.

Ash Wednesday

We can attend Church this day to mark the beginning of Lent. During services (like Mass), a priest, deacon, or other minister will make the Sign of the Cross on a our foreheads with ashes. And we will hear words like “Repent and believe the Good News.” The ashes remind us that we will die one day. The message we hear encourages us to trust God. He cares for us now. And he will care for us after we die.

Five Sundays of Lent

On the five Sundays in Lent, we hear about the temptations Jesus endured (First Sunday of Lent), how he showed his friends his glory (Second Sunday in Lent), and the journey he took to Jerusalem. These Sundays lead us step by step to the most important week in the Church year: Holy Week

Holy Week and the Triduum

During Holy Week, we celebrate the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The week begins on Passion Sunday, when we hear about the trial, suffering, and death of Jesus at Mass. On Holy Thursday (or “Maundy Thursday”) evening, we celebrate the Last Supper when Jesus shared his Body and Blood with his followers. We remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday with readings, prayers, and Communion.

Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday mark the high point of the Church year. Together we call these three days the “Triduum.”

Easter

The sadness of Holy Week ends with the joy of Easter. Jesus is risen from the dead! He is alive! He will never die again! Because he lives forever, we will live forever with him!

The celebration of Easter actually begins on the evening before. This great ceremony is called the Easter Vigil. The readings and songs, the Baptisms, Confirmations, and First Eucharists, all ring out the Good News that the risen Lord lives with us!