What is Lent?
The season of Lent is a Catholic liturgical season consisting of forty days of fasting, prayer and penitence beginning at Ash Wednesday and concluding at sundown on Holy Thursday. The official liturgical colour for the season of Lent is violet. Lent begins on February 14, 2018.
The observance of Lent is related to the celebration of Easter. In the first three centuries of the Christian era, most Christians prepared for Easter by fasting and praying for three days. In some places this was extended to the entire week before Easter (now known as “Holy Week”). There is evidence that in Rome, the length of preparation was three weeks.
The word Lent derives from the Middle English word lenten, meaning springtime – the time of lengthening days. There is biblical support for doing penance, in both the Old and New Testaments. The season of Lent builds on this biblical support, but like all Catholic liturgical seasons, it developed over time. In its early three-week form, Lent was the period of intense spiritual and liturgical preparation for catechumens before they were baptised at Easter. Many members of the community imitated this time of preparation with the catechumens.
By the fourth century (when Christianity was legalised in the Roman Empire) Lent had developed into its current length of forty days. Forty days is significant for Christians because it is the length of the fast and temptation of Jesus in the desert (cf. Luke 4:1-13). Recently, research has suggested that the development of Lent was also influenced by the forty-day span of fasting practised by many in the early Church (especially monks). This fast, beginning right after Epiphany (January 6th) stressed prayer and penance.
Once Christianity became widespread and most people were Baptised as infants, Lent lost the connection to the preparation of catechumens. Instead, the themes of repentance and fasting became dominant. Vatican II restored the order of catechumens. Since then, most adult converts to Catholicism are baptised at the Easter Vigil, which takes place after sundown on Holy Saturday. As a result, the ancient baptismal meaning of Lent is once again becoming important.
At St Dominic's during Lent we are preparing for the Easter season in the following ways:
- Each week there is the opportunity for staff and students to pray the Stations of the Cross in the Chapel on a Wednesday lunchtime at 12.05pm and 1.10pm. This is a meditation based upon the final hours of Jesus' life.
- Our daily prayers are on different Lenten themes with an action associated to help us think about being more virtuous.
- We are also going to be collecting for the local food bank, to reach out to those in need in the community, so Lent is about more than just ourselves.
- Mass will be celebrated every Friday at 12.05pm in our Chapel.
Parents and carers are more than welcome to attend any of the services above. We look forward to welcoming you.
Best wishes, Angela O'Brien (Chaplain)