Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday.
Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word leneten, which means “spring.” The season of Lent is a preparing for the celebration of Easter. Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts, and then became a time for penance by all Christians.
During these penitential days, the community journeys alongside Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, the beginnings of his public ministry and the calling forth of disciples. We once again highlight his triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the upper room….to the garden….to the Cross….and then alas to the tomb. Al this reflection and study is laying the groundwork for celebrating once again our Easter Joy and resurrection life.
Holy Week begins with the celebration of Palm / Passion Sunday to celebrate Jesus the King’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the days that lead up to the Passion of Jesus which we commemorate on Friday of Holy Week.
On Maundy Thursday, Christians commemorate the supper Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The ancient practice of stripping the Lord’s table and sanctuary following communion is a vivid and dramatic way of showing the desolation and abandonment of the long night in Gethsemane and what followed. This begins Holy Triduum or 3 Great Days; Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil (which is celebrated on Saturday evening).
On Good Friday, Christians around the world hear the proclamation of the full Passion of Christ. The focus of this service is the suffering and sacrifice that Jesus willingly took upon himself in order that all may have new life.
As we journey down God’s paths together during Lent, let us look for and discover the myriad of ways in which we are becoming more faithful in our prayer life, in our discipleship, in our faith-filled belief and our actions in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit who brings New Life to all.