Lent is a 40-day fast — a reference to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert. It’s a time when we can prepare our hearts for the remembrance of Christ’s death. Our observance of Lent culminates in the solemn celebrations of Holy Week when on Palm Sunday we follow Christ from his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to the foot of the Cross as sorrowful bystanders to His Passion, before rolling back the stone of the empty tomb and the joy of the Resurrection.
The six-week period is dedicated to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in preparation for this great celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery in the Easter Triduum.
Lent is the time to reset our patterns so that there is time for God in our hearts and in our weekly routines. You know well that the highest form of prayer is the celebration of the Eucharist. It is here, above all other places, that the Lord wishes to fill us with his gifts, so that we, in turn, can offer those gifts to others. And then, when we give that which we have received, we bring this precious light of Christ into our world.Cardinal Vincent Nichols
You can read Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2022 here.
Ash Wednesday is the doorway into this season of renewal. It is celebrated this year on Wednesday, 2 March.
As well as the important spiritual instruments of Lent – prayer, self-denial (fasting) and practical generosity (almsgiving) there is a twin focus this year.
Back to Church
During the last two years of the pandemic, our way of life was severely curtailed. We were in ‘lockdown’. At one time, for three months, even the doors of our churches were firmly closed. Being unable to enter the House of God and to take part fully in the celebration of the Mass was, for many, an experience of real dismay and pain. Describing Christ as the “best antidote” to the darkness of the pandemic, the loneliness it has brought and the lack of clear hope for the future, Cardinal Vincent Nichols has appealed for the Catholic community to help those back to church who may have fallen into another pattern on Sundays.
“We are again able to fashion the way of life that we choose. The doors of our churches can stay wide open. Yet, as you know, many have not resumed the pattern of coming to church, week by week. Other activities have filled that space. For some, the thirst for being at Mass, for celebrating life-giving sacraments, has diminished.
“This is where I ask for your help. I would like you to be ready to approach those whom you know, and who are not present here today, with a word of invitation for them to join us. I know this is not easy. You may well feel it is an intrusive thing to do. Also, taking the step across the threshold of the church can be daunting for someone who has been away for a long time. So I ask you to exercise great deference and kindness when approaching them, perhaps offering to accompany them on this return journey.
“I make this request now not simply because fear and restrictions are eased, but because we are approaching Lent, the traditional and powerful season of our renewal in faith. Beginning on Ash Wednesday we respond to the Lord’s invitation to come forward and meet him afresh. He invites us to come through the doors of the church to stand before him and receive his blessing, his mark of mercy.”
Prayer for Peace in Ukraine
Having joined together in solidarity to pray with Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community on many occasions since the invasion of Ukraine began, we have collected together some useful prayers and resources.
You can find all our relevant content in our Ukraine Archive.
As we travel on a journey of faith through Christ's passion, death and resurrection, this audio series, Lent and Easter at the Movies, relates a series of films to the day's Gospel reading.