What is Lent?
The season of Lent is a Catholic liturgical season consisting of forty days of fasting, prayer, and penitence. Traditionally, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. The official liturgical color for the season of Lent is violet.
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”).
Ash Wednesday – February 17, 2021
Ash Wednesday dates from at least the fourth century, although it is not possible to give an exact date. The ashes are a symbol of penance and reconciliation. On Ash Wednesday, ashes may be distributed during Mass, usually after the homily, or outside of Mass. When done outside of Mass ashes are distributed as part of a Liturgy of the Word. Ashes are typically placed on one’s forehead in the shape of a cross. The traditional formula for placing the ashes on the forehead is, “Remember you are dust and to dust you will return.”
Laetare Sunday - March 14, 2021
The fourth Sunday of Lent, which marks the halfway point, is celebrated with rose vestments instead of the usual violet. Laetare means “to rejoice” in Latin, and the lighter vestments signify a brief celebration in expectation of Easter, even in the midst of Lent.
Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) - March 28, 2021
The celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before he was arrested. In Scripture, people placed palm branches on the road as Jesus road on a donkey into Jerusalem. Catholics usually have a blessing of palms and then hold the palms as the priest enters the church. Passion Sunday is another name for Palm Sunday. This name is appropriate because at the Mass for this Sunday, the passion of the Lord is traditionally read.
Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) – April 1, 2021
Holy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. It also commemorates His institution of the priesthood. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week. Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast.
Maundy Thursday is an ancient English name for Holy Thursday. It comes from the Latin, Mandatum novum da nobis (“I give you a new commandment,” John 13:34) that began the ancient foot-washing ceremony.
Good Friday – April 2, 2021
Good Friday is the day on which Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Christian year.
Triduum – April 1, 2, 3, 2021
The “Great Three Days”- the three-part celebration beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, continuing with The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and concluding with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.
Easter Sunday – April 4, 2021
And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” Luke 24:46.
Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important feast of the ecclesiastical year.