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LENT, ITS THEMES AND CUSTOMS

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What is Lent?

 

Lent is the period of the church year that leads up to Holy Week and then Easter,

the most important Christian feast.

 

It is a time when we remember Jesus being deserted by his followers and dying on the Cross. It is therefore a time of great solemnity when we reflect on our own mortality and try to renew our relationship with God.

 

Lenten themes

 

There are three disciplines traditionally associated with Lent:

 

  • Prayer – when we are to examine how we talk and listen to God. For example, we might ask if we prioritise coming to church each Sunday, or whether we only      come if we have nothing better to do.

  • Fasting – as well as holding back on certain types of food and drink are there other ways we can practice some restraint? For some people this might mean limiting or even suspending the use of social media.

 

  • Almsgiving – it is sometimes said that the last part of a person to be converted is their wallet. In a world where both locally and globally there is now so much hardship, can we put our beliefs into practice and give generously to assist others?

 

Customs

 

Throughout Lent the church takes on a different appearance: 

 

  • The music reflects the penitential nature of the season. The Gloria and Alleluia are omitted, and there is greater use of silence. It is so important to minimise chatter before Mass as it puts other people off and, as the old line reminds us, we should talk to God before Mass and afterwards to each other.

 

  • Our vestments and coloured hangings are solemn purple for much of Lent and there are no beautiful displays of flowers. For Christians this is a time of simplicity, when we try to grow in humility and focus on what matters most. Together, we acknowledge our sinfulness and our need for God’s forgiveness.

 

  • From the 5th Sunday of Lent, Passion Sunday, all the statues, images and crucifixes are veiled as we journey towards Holy Week and the cross. We see the dramatic action intensify as the time of Jesus’ suffering and death draws close.

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