7th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B. Helpful hints with the Readings, Deep Sea diving into the Scriptures, a realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh, What does Lent really mean? Family Intercessions and Blessing, Opportunities for ongoing Scriptural Formation Courses. Number 55.

15 Feb



Helpful hints

It is very important for us to read God’s Word slowly and reflectively. We are not reading it just to get information or answer questions; we must enable God’s Word to enter us just like liquid polish enters timber that is thirsty for nutrition. A good rule of thumb is to have a question like this in our mind……”Lord, what are you saying to ME in your Word today? Secondly, how can my life be changed, in order to allow God’s Word to find a Home in my being? Finally, as for special Feasts, Advent and Lent, the three Readings are in a sequence which has an underlying thread running through them. In Ordinary time, the First Reading, and the Gospel are bridged…so we generally look for the link. The Second Reading is continuous, and follows on to the next Sunday.

First Reading: Isaiah 43:18-19. 21-22. 24-25

Thus says the Lord:

No need to recall the past,

no need to think about what was done before.

See, I am doing a new deed,

even now it comes to light; can you not see it?

Yes, I am making a road in the wilderness,

paths in the wilds.

The people I have formed for myself

will sing my praises.

Jacob, you have not invoked me,

you have not troubled yourself, Israel, on my behalf.

Instead you have burdened me with your sins,

troubled me with your iniquities.

I it is, I it is, who must blot out everything

and not remember your sins.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

(Let’s PAUSE and reflect upon this reading, and let us ask ourselves the two questions stated above. That is our PERSONAL response to the Word. This might take a few minutes, try not to rush it. The Psalm and Antiphon is the COMMUNITY response to God’s Word, a bit like a short and sweet Text Message)


R. Lord, heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.

Happy the man who considers the poor and the weak.

The Lord will save him in the day of evil,

will guard him, give him life, make him happy in the land

and will not give him up to the will of his foes. R.

The Lord will help him on his bed of pain,

he will bring him back from sickness to health.

As for me, I said: ‘Lord, have mercy on me,

heal my soul for I have sinned against you.’ R.

If you uphold me I shall be unharmed

and set in your presence for evermore.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel

from age to age. Amen. Amen. R.

                  Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:18-22

I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you. The Son of God, the Christ Jesus that we proclaimed among you – I mean Silvanus and Timothy and I – was never Yes and No: with him it was always Yes, and however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him. That is why it is ‘through him’ that we answer Amen to the praise of God. Remember it is God himself who assures us all, and you, of our standing in Christ, and has anointed us, marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.

This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Let’s PAUSE again after this Reading, and reflect on it like you did after the first Reading. The Community Acclamation follows and should be sung: e.g ALLELUIA, or PRAISE TO YOU LORD JESUS CHRIST KING OF ENDLESS GLORY. When we are present at our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration, the Alleluia or Praise be to you…should always be sung. Why? It’s a bit like singing Happy Birthday! 

We never say it… 🙂

Gospel: Mark 2:1-12


When Jesus returned to Capernaum, word went round that he was back; and so many people collected that there was no room left, even in front of the door. He was preaching the word to them when some people came bringing him a paralytic carried by four men, but as the crowds made it impossible to get the man to him, they stripped the roof over the place where Jesus was; and when they had made an opening, they lowered the stretcher on which the paralytic lay. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’ Now some scribes were sitting there, and they thought to themselves, ‘How can this man talk like that? He is blaspheming. Who can forgive sins but God?’ Jesus, inwardly aware that this was what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why do you have these thoughts in your hearts? Which of these is easier: to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven” or to say, “Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk?” But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘I order you: get up, pick up your stretcher, and go off home.’ And the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and walked out in front of everyone, so that they were all astounded and praised God saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Reflection time again……. see if you can see and hear the links, connecting between the Frist Readings and the Gospel. After that, we are then ready for what is to follow…..


If you have ever opened your eyes under water, or used a snorkel and face mask, or had the opportunity to use an aqualung, it is a very different world to explore isn’t it? I love snorkelling, and it is though the fish welcome you into their world. However, they need to be treated with respect, and one must be aware of ‘no-go’ zones especially where sharks are known to call that place, ‘home’ especially at meal times. So, this next section is going down into the Scriptures, which opens the pathway for us to be curious about The Word, and it will also develop an appetite in us to do this more often.

                   Focusing the Word

                                   Key words and phrases

Jesus preached the word at Capernaum.

Your sins are forgiven.

Pick up your stretcher and walk.

We have never seen anything like this.

Lord, heal my soul for I have sinned against you.

to the point

Once again we have a story that links healing and proclaiming but in this passage Jesus is more than a miracle worker. By forgiving the sins of the paralytic, Jesus’ divinity is proclaimed (‘Who can forgive sins but God?’). When we perceive such power combined with such mercy we are moved to become proclaimers of this good news.

Connecting the Word

to Mark’s passion account

In this Sunday’s passage the controversy between Jesus and the scribes anticipates the charge to be made against him at his trial: ‘He is blaspheming’ (see Mark 14:64). Forgiving sins is so essential to Jesus’ proclamation of the gospel that he is willing to die on the cross.

to culture

Within us there is a desire to share good news (birth of a baby, engagement, etc.). The enduring good news is that we are forgiven and our lives are to proclaim this.

Understanding the Word

Mark’s style: history and gospel

Mark organises his gospel by grouping together the same kinds of stories. After introducing John and Jesus, Mark records five stories of healing: the man with the unclean spirit (1:21-28, Sunday 4), Simon’s mother-in-law and the sick in the village (1:29-34, both on Sunday 5), the leper (1:40-54, Sunday 6) and the paralytic (2:1-12, this Sunday). These are followed by five controversies. But with great artistic style Mark interlocks the two sets of five by combining into one story the last of the healings and the first of the controversies: this Sunday’s account of the healing of the paralytic introduces a controversy about who can forgive sins. Three of the remaining four controversies (fasting, working, and healing on the Sabbath) will be read over the next two Sundays. Then, after recounting the call of the twelve apostles, Mark will continue with four parables, followed by four miracle stories. This grouping together of similar stories is typical of Mark.

Mark’s style is further evident in another detail in this Sunday’s episode: the allegation, ‘he is blaspheming’ (2:7), foreshadows the charge that will be made against Jesus at his trial before the religious authorities (14:64). As Mark narrates his story he has the end clearly in view: everything leads inexorably to the cross where, as we saw in last Sunday’s comments, the identity of Jesus is fully and finally revealed.

These comments on Mark’s style serve to caution us about reading the gospel as if it were brute fact or a historical account. It is unlikely that Jesus organised his life and ministry into neat and homogenous kinds of activities. Mark’s goal in writing is to unfold the mystery of Jesus’ identity as it is revealed in his teachings, his deeds of power, and most especially in his suffering and death. He does this to encourage readers to be faithful in their discipleship even when it may entail their own suffering and death. To accomplish his goal Mark makes use of historical events and memories but he is no slave to history. Rather, history serves the proclamation of the gospel.

A realhomilie from Fr Kev Walsh

Dear One and All,

We have a very interesting Gospel this weekend, because it makes a direct connection between internal and external healing. Jesus heals the total person, or not at all. ‘Your sins are forgiven; arise and walk’. It shows us that healing begins on the inside, and then comes out through the body.

Today we see that the faith of others can bring us to faith and healing!  Four people brought their friend to Jesus, they couldn’t get near him, so they used their initiative, climbed the stairway by the side of the house, removed the thatching on the roof, and lowered the man in front of Jesus. Notice that there were no words spoken by the stretcher-bearers; their actions spoke louder than words. The text says that ‘Jesus marvelled at their faith.’ The man on the stretcher was literally taken to Jesus, maybe unable to speak, and the Lord marvelled at their loving action. But there is something even more astonishing and so applicable: The four people who took the man to Jesus were living ‘Intercessions’. The Scriptures have many examples of Intercession. Within the Liturgy of the Word, we have the Bidding Prayers, or General Intercessions, also, often people will ask us to pray for them. Now that’s not just ‘remember’ them, it means that while we are being held in conversation with the Lord in Prayer….that can be prime time to bring these people to the Lord. This is something that we should not take lightly; it is a responsibility that we have to the person who asks us……or the person(s) who we feel should be ‘carried’ in prayer to the Lord; just like the person in the Gospel who was brought to Jesus. Now we can even go further as Intercessors; as in this Gospel situation today, the stretcher bearers were a major part for the person on the stretcher to experiencing Salvation! What does that mean? It profoundly means that through the stretcher bearer’s efforts in lowering the person from the roof into the room, they were in fact enabling the sick person to experience the saying hand of God….that is an experience of being saved, or salvation. Remember what Jesus said to Zacchaeus….? I want to Dine with you, in other words I want to Eucharist with you. The response was said in Our Lord’s own words…..Salvation has come to this house!  In the Gospel story of today; Salvation came to that house! Let’s go a little more into this fantastic story; Notice that the text says, ‘Seeing their faith’….here it would seems that the ‘seeing’ has allot to do with the meaning of faith’. So often in conversation we say, “I see what you are saying”…..that’s really an unusual thing to say, isn’t it? To see what someone says!  It would seem that faith has allot to do with seeing, so therefore we could say that faith=insight, that is, the ability to see the saving hand of God at work. Food for thought, eh? Now, just one more precious part of this story…..Jesus says, ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk!….’ It is not hard to see that the process of ‘getting up’ could well be a synonym for ‘RISE!’ as in new life…Resurrection. Finally,’ pick up your stretcher and walk!’ My question and probably yours could well be…Walk! Did it mean just go home? I would suspect that the walking is also another way of saying that he was a changed person inside and out, and that his walking would be that of a follower on ‘The Way’ the term that the early Christian community called the followers of Jesus, prior to being called Christians in Antioch. But his walking would continue as in a pilgrimage with others to God Our Father.

Right from the beginning of his mission, Jesus called on people to repent, change their lives, see themselves and others from a totally different perspective, and seek forgiveness for their sins. Jesus said that if we have an unforgiving heart for another person, we are in big trouble in being be forgiven ourselves. (The Lord’s Prayer.) When we forgive someone; when a broken relationship is mended, two people experience freedom. The healthiest people on earth are those with a forgiving heart.  When we have resentment against another, it is a full-blown cataract, which prevents us from seeing with the eyes of faith, the saving hand of God at work.

This of course raises a very complex question like: can one really forgive someone who has hurt us or hurt someone else in a really bad way?  Perhaps the memory of the ‘hurt’ can be healed, but ultimately forgiveness comes from God.

Finally, one of the subtle messages of the Good News today is that through intercession, we can escort people to Jesus.  We can be stretcher-bearers for others through our prayer, and sensitive ministry. We also need to use our creative skills, in realising that there is always a way to God. Our faith opens the way, and sheds light on the direction in which we can companion our brothers and sisters to God. It may take years and tears in our prayer before we see any results. But so often the results that we are looking for are not the designs of God.  Humble prayer always has in brackets, ‘not my will but yours be done.’

God bless you and your families and may we never forget each other in prayer.     Fr.Kev

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“Cuaresma” redirects here. For other uses, see Quaresma (disambiguation).

This article is about the observance of Lent in Western Christianity. For Lent in Orthodox Christianity, see Great Lent. For other uses, see Lent (disambiguation).

Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week. The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment. Similar Catholic penitential practice is seen in other countries, sometimes associated with mortification of the flesh. Granada, Nicaragua.

Lent also known as Cuaresma or Quadragesima (Latin: Forty[1]) is the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

The traditional purpose of Lent is the penitential preparation of the believer – through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the Passion of Christ on Good Friday which then culminates in Easter Sunday, marking the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lenten season, some faithful observants generally commit to a form of fasting or (temporarily) give up certain types of luxury. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestant parishes often bare their altars of candles, flowers and other devotional offerings while Crucifixes, religious statues and other elaborate religious paraphernalia are often veiled in violet fabrics in pious observance of this event. Among certain pious Catholic countries, grand processions and cultural customs are observed, while the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary by observing the Fourteen Stations of the Cross.

According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by Satan.[2][3] Thus, Lent is described as being forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days differently. In many of the Christian churches, Lent is regarded as being forty days long, but the Sundays between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday are not typically regarded as being part of Lent; thus, the date of Shrove Tuesday will typically be slightly more than forty days before Easter Sunday.

This event, along with its pious customs are observed by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and some Baptists.[4][4][5][5] Lent is increasingly being observed by other denominations as well, even such groups that have historically ignored Lent, such as some Baptists and Mennonites[6]



Most followers of Western Christianity observe Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding on Holy Thursday.[3][7] The six Sundays in this period are not counted because each one represents a “mini-Easter,” a celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death.[2] One notable exception is the Archdiocese of Milan, which follows the Ambrosian Rite and observes Lent starting on the Sunday 6 weeks before Easter.[8]

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church has redefined Good Friday into Holy Saturday as the first two days of the Easter Triduum rather than the last two days of Lent, but Lenten observances are maintained until the Easter Vigil.

In those churches which follow the Rite of Constantinople (e.g. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics), the forty days of Lent are counted differently; also, the date of Pascha (Easter) is calculated differently in the East than in the West (see Computus). The fast begins on Clean Monday, and Sundays are included in the count; thus, counting uninterruptedly from Clean Monday, Great Lent ends on the fortieth consecutive day, which is the Friday before Palm Sunday. The days of Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week are considered a distinct period of fasting. For more detailed information about the Eastern Christian practice of Lent, see the article Great Lent.

Among Oriental Orthodox Christians, there are various local traditions regarding Lent. The Coptic, Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches observe eight weeks of Lent, which, with both Saturdays and Sundays exempt, has forty days of fasting.[8] The first seven days of the fast are considered by some to be an optional time of preparation.[citation needed] Others attribute these seven days to the fast of Holofernes who asked the Syrian Christians to fast for him after they requested his assistance to repel the invading pagan Persians. Joyous Saturday and the week preceding it are counted separately from the forty day fast in accordance with the Apostolic Constitutions giving an extra eight days.

Other related fasting periods

The number forty has many Biblical references: the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 24:18); the forty days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8); the forty days and nights God sent rain in the great flood of Noah (Genesis 7:4); the forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33); the forty days Jonah in his prophecy of judgment gave the city of Nineveh in which to repent (Jonah 3:4).

Jesus retreated into the wilderness, where he fasted for forty days, and was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1–2, Mark 1:12–13, Luke 4:1–2). He overcame all three of Satan’s temptations by citing scripture to the devil, at which point the devil left him, angels ministered to Jesus, and he began his ministry. Jesus further said that his disciples should fast “when the bridegroom shall be taken from them” (Matthew 9:15), a reference to his Passion. Since, presumably, the Apostles fasted as they mourned the death of Jesus, Christians have traditionally fasted during the annual commemoration of his burial.

It is the traditional belief that Jesus lay for forty hours in the tomb[8] which led to the forty hours of total fast that preceded the Easter celebration in the early Church[9] (the biblical reference to ‘three days in the tomb’ is understood as spanning three days, from Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning, rather than three 24 hour periods of time). One of the most important ceremonies at Easter was the baptism of the initiates on Easter Eve. The fast was initially undertaken by the catechumens to prepare them for the reception of this sacrament. Later, the period of fasting from Good Friday until Easter Day was extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training, necessary to give the final instruction to those converts who were to be baptized.

Converts to Christianity followed a strict catechumenate or period of instruction and discipline prior to baptism. In Jerusalem near the close of the fourth century, classes were held throughout Lent for three hours each day. With the legalization of Christianity (by the Edict of Milan) and its later imposition as the state religion of the Roman Empire, its character was endangered by the great influx of new members. In response, the Lenten fast and practices of self-renunciation were required annually of all Christians, both to show solidarity with the catechumens, and for their own spiritual benefit.


In Latin the term quadragesima (translation of the original Greek Τεσσαρακοστή, Tessarakostē, the “fortieth” day before Easter) is used. This nomenclature is preserved in Romance, Slavic and Celtic languages (for example, Spanish cuaresma, Portuguese quaresma, French carême, Italian quaresima, Romanian păresimi, Croatian korizma, Irish Carghas, and Welsh C(a)rawys).

In the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted. This word initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen.[10]

Associated customs

There are traditionally forty days in Lent which are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbour). Today, some people give up a vice of theirs, add something that will bring them closer to God, and often give the time or money spent doing that to charitable purposes or organizations.[11]

In many liturgical Christian denominations, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday form the Easter Triduum.[12] Lent is a season of grief that necessarily ends with a great celebration of Easter. It is known in Eastern Orthodox circles as the season of “Bright Sadness.” It is a season of sorrowful reflection which is punctuated by breaks in the fast on Sundays.

In the Roman Catholic Mass, Lutheran Divine Service, and Anglican Eucharist, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is not sung during the Lenten season, disappearing on Ash Wednesday and not returning until the moment of the Resurrection during the Easter Vigil. On major feast days, the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is recited, but this in no way diminishes the penitential character of the season; it simply reflects the joyful character of the Mass of the day in question. It is also used in the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Likewise, the Alleluia is not sung during Lent; it is replaced before the Gospel reading by a seasonal acclamation. In the pre-1970 form of the Roman Rite omission of the Alleluia begins with Septuagesima. In the Byzantine Rite, the Gloria (Great Doxology) continues to be used in its normal place in the Matins service, and the Alleluia appears all the more frequently, replacing “God is the Lord” at Matins.

In pre-1970 forms of the Roman Rite, the last two weeks of Lent are known as Passiontide, a period beginning on the Fifth Sunday in Lent, which in the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal is called the First Sunday in Passiontide and in earlier editions Passion Sunday. All statues (and in England paintings as well) in the church were traditionally veiled in violet. This was seen as in keeping with the Gospel of that Sunday (John 8:46–59), in which Jesus “hid himself” from the people. The veils were removed at the singing of the Gloria during the Easter Vigil. In 1970 the name “Passiontide” was dropped, although the last two weeks are markedly different from the rest of the season, and continuance of the tradition of veiling images is left to the decision of a country’s conference of bishops.

Pre-Lenten festivals

Main articles: Carnival, Mardi Gras, Swabian-Alemannic-Fastnacht, Maslenitsa, Pancake Day, and Baklahorani

Pile of straw with a fir tree and a “witch” doll attached to it, for the traditional “Funken” bonfire on the First Sunday of Lent in Herdwangen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The “Funken” set ablaze

The traditional carnival celebrations which precede Lent in many cultures have become associated with the season of fasting if only because they are a last opportunity for excess before Lent begins. The most famous pre-Lenten carnival in the world is celebrated in Rio de Janeiro; other famous Carnivals are held in Trinidad & Tobago, Venice, Cologne, Mobile, AL and New Orleans. It is known by the name Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday.

Fasting and abstinence

Fasting during Lent was more severe in ancient times than today. Socrates Scholasticus reports that in some places, all animal products were strictly forbidden, while others will permit fish, others permit fish and fowl, others prohibit fruit and eggs, and still others eat only bread. In some places, believers abstained from food for an entire day; others took only one meal each day, while others abstained from all food until 3 o’clock. In most places, however, the practice was to abstain from eating until the evening, when a small meal without vegetables or alcohol was eaten.[citation needed]

During the early Middle Ages, meat, eggs and dairy products were generally forbidden. Thomas Aquinas argued that “they afford greater pleasure as food [than fish], and greater nourishment to the human body, so that from their consumption there results a greater surplus available for seminal matter, which when abundant becomes a great incentive to lust.”[13]

However, dispensations for dairy products were given, frequently for a donation[citation needed], from which several churches are popularly believed to have been built, including the “Butter Tower” of the Rouen Cathedral. In Spain, the bull of the Holy Crusade (renewed periodically after 1492) allowed the consumption of dairy products[14] and eggs during Lent in exchange for a contribution to the conflict.

Giraldus Cambrensis in his Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales reports that “in Germany and the arctic regions,” “great and religious persons,” eat the tail of beavers as “fish” because of its superficial resemblance to a fish and their relative abundance.[15]

In current Western societies the practice is considerably relaxed, though in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches abstinence from all animal products including fish, eggs, fowl and milk sourced from animals (e.g. goats and cows as opposed to the milk of soy beans and coconuts) is still commonly practiced, meaning only vegetarian (vegan) meals are consumed in many Eastern countries for the entire fifty-five days of their Lent. In the Roman Catholic Church it is traditional to abstain from meat from mammals and fowl on Ash Wednesday and every Friday for the duration of Lent, although fish and dairy products are still permitted. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday it is customary to fast for the day, with no meat, eating only one full meal, and if necessary, two small meals also.[16]

Pursuant to Canon 1253, days of fasting and abstinence are set by the national Episcopal Conference. On days of fasting, one eats only one full meal, but may eat two smaller meals as necessary to keep up one’s strength. The two small meals together must sum to less than the one full meal. Parallel to the fasting laws are the laws of abstinence. These bind those over the age of fourteen. On days of abstinence, the person must not eat meat or poultry. According to canon law, all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday and several other days are days of abstinence, though in most countries, the strict requirements for abstinence have been limited by the bishops (in accordance with Canon 1253) to the Fridays of Lent and Ash Wednesday. On other abstinence days, the faithful are invited to perform some other act of penance. A custom that developed later was to also give up something a person “enjoyed” receiving or doing for the duration of Lent. Although it is not required or part of any rule, many Christians today will also choose to give up something during the Lenten period.

In some years, there have been exceptions to abstinence on Fridays during the Lenten Season. If Saint Patrick’s Day (17 March) falls on a Friday during Lent, the local Bishop can dispense with the rules and Catholics can eat meat. This is especially true in the United States among areas with large Irish-American populations, who eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. Approximately one third of all Catholic dioceses in the United States grant such a dispensation.[17] The same is true for the feasts of St. Joseph and the Annunciation, which are always 19 and 25 March respectively. If the feasts (19 March or 25 March) fall on a Friday during Lent then the obligation to abstain is abrogated.[18]

Contemporary legislation is rooted in the 1966 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, Paenitemini. He recommended that fasting be appropriate to the local economic situation, and that all Catholics voluntarily fast and abstain. He also allowed that fasting and abstinence might be substituted with prayer and works of charity.

Traditionally, on Easter Sunday, Roman Catholics may cease their fasting and start again whatever they gave up for Lent, after they attend Mass on Easter Sunday. Orthodox Christians break their fast after the Paschal Vigil (a service which starts around 11:00 pm on Holy Saturday), which includes the Paschal celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. At the end of the service, the priest will bless eggs, cheese, flesh meats and other items that the faithful have been abstaining from for the duration of Great Lent.

Lenten practices (as well as various other liturgical practices) are more common in Protestant circles than they once were. Many modern Protestants consider the observation of Lent to be a choice, rather than an obligation. They may decide to give up a favorite food or drink (e.g. chocolate, alcohol) or activity (e.g., going to the movies, playing video games, etc.) for Lent, or they may instead take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for charity work, and so on. In the Reformed tradition Lent is rejected. Ulrich Zwingli, considered the initial leader of the Reformed movement in Switzerland, made the Lenten fast representative of the difference between the traditional sacramentalism of the Catholic Church and the belief in “sola fide” that he was beginning to espouse. On the first fasting Sunday, 9 March, Zwingli and about a dozen other supporters purposely and publicly violated the Lenten fast by cutting and distributing two smoked sausages. Since then, the Reformed movement, including the Puritans in the English speaking world, have not observed Lent, sometimes making a demonstration of their rejection of it.

Liturgical year



Holy days

See also: Easter Triduum

There are several holy days within the season of Lent:

  • Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in Western Christianity
  • Clean Monday (or “Ash Monday”) is the first day in Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • The fourth Lenten Sunday, which marks the halfway point between Ash Wednesday and Easter, is sometimes referred to as Laetare Sunday, particularly by Roman Catholics, and Mothering Sunday, which has become synonymous with Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom. However, its origin is a sixteenth century celebration of the Mother Church. On Laetare Sunday, the priest has the option of wearing vestments of rose (pink) instead of violet.
  • The fifth Lenten Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday (however, that term is also applied to Palm Sunday) marks the beginning of Passiontide
  • The sixth Lenten Sunday, commonly called Palm Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent immediately preceding Easter
  • Wednesday of Holy Week is known as Spy Wednesday to commemorate the days on which Judas spied on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane before betraying him
  • Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, and is a day Christians commemorate the Last Supper shared by Christ with his disciples
  • Good Friday follows the next day, on which Christians remember Jesus’ crucifixion and burial

Cross veiled during Passiontide in Lent (Pfarrkirche St. Martin in Tannheim, Baden Württemberg, Germany).

In the Roman Catholic Church, the Easter Triduum is a three-day event that begins with the entrance hymn of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. After this Holy Thursday evening celebration, the consecrated hosts are taken from the altar solemnly to a place of reposition where the faithful are invited to worship the holy Body of Christ. On the next day the liturgical commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ is celebrated at 3 pm, unless a later time is chosen due to work schedules. This service consists of readings from the Scriptures especially John the Evangelist‘s account of the Passion of Jesus, followed by prayers, adoration of the cross of Jesus, and a communion service at which the hosts consecrated at the evening Mass of the day before are distributed. The Easter Vigil during the night between Holy Saturday afternoon and Easter Sunday morning starts with the blessing of a fire and a special candle and with readings from Scripture associated with baptism, then the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is sung, water is blessed, baptism and confirmation of adults may take place, and the people are invited to renew the promises of their own baptism, and finally Mass is celebrated in the usual way from the Preparation of the Gifts onwards.

Holy Week and the season of Lent, depending on denomination and local custom, end with Easter Vigil at sundown on Holy Saturday or on the morning of Easter Sunday. It is custom for some churches to hold sunrise services which include open air celebrations in some places.

In the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and many Anglican churches, the priest’s vestments are violet during the season of Lent. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, rose-coloured vestments may be worn in lieu of violet. In some Anglican churches, a type of unbleached linen or muslin known as Lenten array is used during the first three weeks of Lent, and crimson during Passiontide. On holy days, the colour proper to the day is worn.[citation needed]



This is a great opportunity to gather the Family in Prayer. Having a Prayer Setting really adds to and designates this time as a ‘special’ time together. You might like to have a nice coloured cloth on a coffee table, or on the centre of the Dining Room Table. You will need a candle, Crucifix, Bible …in the opened position, even at the Gospel of the Sunday, and maybe a flower. You might like to create your own permanent ‘sacred space’ in your home, where the Word of God is open, and a small tee light within a fire proof glass, could awaken in the minds and hearts of your family of the ‘real presence’ of God in His Word.  Prayer time needs to be able to engage as many of our senses as possible. Someone in the family might like to be the leader, then other family members can share the prayers….everyone can be invited to join is spontaneous shared prayer…

LEADER: Our God who is always willing to wipe out our offences is always willing to hear our prayers and heal us. And so we pray:

For our pope, bishop, priests and parish staff members, that their work be blessed and made fruitful, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all civil servants, that they work to reconcile factions and to promote unity in diversity, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For those whose addiction to drugs and alcohol paralyse their work and relationships, that they may be healed, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For those who hold grudges and find it impossible to forgive, that the Holy Spirit soften their hearts, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For the sick, the elderly, and the dying, that they receive the support and comfort they need, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

For all who have died, including N. and N., that they rejoice in the peace and glory of God’s kingdom, we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

Let’s think back over the past week, and what we have seen on the T.V News, Breaking News on our Mobile Phones and ipads….who are some of the people in our Global village or need our prayers? You might like to share some of these…………., we pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.

LEADER: God of help and healing, renew the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts so we may love and serve you and others with generosity and joy, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing……..

Blessing is taken from the Iona Abbey Sacramentary, Scotland. 

Leader:          The Cross


The bread……………


The pain


The joy………………


The Gospel……………


The love…………


The light……………


The darkness…………….

ALL          WE SHALL PERISH IT. Amen.


Free Mini-Courses!

C21 Online:

A unique approach to scripture study especially designed for busy people

The Birth of Jesus: Two Gospel Accounts􀀀

This is an online, self-paced tutorial written and narrated by Philip A.

Cunningham, former Executive Director of Center for Christian-Jewish Learning

at Boston College. It is a collaborative project of the Center and C21 Online.

The Death of Jesus: Four Gospel Accounts

By the end of the mini-course, a participant will have explored:

• the four different Gospel passion narratives by examining five scenes that are

common to each of the narratives

• the unique characteristics of each account

• the limits of our historical knowledge about Jesus’s death

the spiritual message about the death of Jesus that each evangelist sought to convey.

Online Course

Encountering Mark, Matthew, and Luke: The Synoptic


featuring video with Father Michael J. Himes, Boston College Professor of

Theology, and articles by Dr. Philip A. Cunningham, former Executive Director,

Boston College’s Center for Christian-Jewish Learning

Let the Scriptures enrich your spiritual life! In this course, you will explore the

Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. Two weeks will be devoted to each

gospel. Articles by Dr. Philip A. Cunningham help participants gain an

overview of each gospel’s features, learn about its setting, the evangelist who

wrote it, and the community for which it was written. Videos featuring Fr.

Michael J. Himes focus on key insights. Then, explore practices to use the

gospel in prayer and reflection on your life. No previous experience in

Scripture study is necessary.

Course Will Be Offered:

6 week course􀀀February 15 – March 27, 2012 (Course site opens February 8 and

closes April 3 at 4pm ET)

Registration for this course closes on February 10th. (3pm ET) or when filled to capacity

Special Features

This course includes:

• a guide for reading the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke by Dr. Philip A. Cunningham

• bonus articles on the writing of the gospels and research about the historical


• a video presentation by Father Michael J. Himes for each gospel

• weekly questions for reflection and discussion

• a “town meeting” forum where participants can meet and socialize.

• those who actively participate receive an acknowledgment of completion of course

All C21 Online courses include these features:

• Participants have access 24 hours/7 days a week to the course’s password

protected web site.




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