Lenten Resources

lent

Lent is a time when one’s faith is strengthened and renewed through fasting and abstinence, in order to prepare oneself for Easter. New life from death is celebrated each Easter for the newly baptised and for renewing one’s baptism as well. 


Way of the Cross

When is Lent in 2015?

The 40-days period of Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, which is February 18th in year 2015. Traditionally, Lent ends on Holy Saturday (April 4th), but to highlight the Holy Triduum (Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday), nowadays we consider the end of Lent on Holy Saturday evening. Nevertheless, penance should continue until Holy Saturday evening.

What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Ash is a sign of mortality, it serves to reminds us what is important in life. The ashes used for the liturgy are the previous years palms that are burned, which enforces the meaning of this symbol. Lent starts with putting a sign of the cross with the ashes on one’s forehead, to symbolizes one’s willingness to change and renew oneself to strive for eternal life.

Why is Penance important?

In the Apostolic Constitution Paenitemini of Pope Paul VI, he writes that the Church has observed that penitence has been an important aspect in all religions. This indicates that it is an act which is intimate in the lives of the faithful.

In the case of Christianity, the need to do penance is accompanied with the attitude of conversion, to avoid sin and strive towards God. Therefore, penance is a religious act in which the aim is to love and surrender to God, an act done for the sake of God or others, and not for oneself.

Jesus fasted forty days and nights before starting His ministry and then began His mission with the message: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15) Pope Paul VI writes, “These words constitute, in a way, a compendium of the whole Christian life.” The kingdom of God can only be entered with a change of heart, or ‘metanoia’. One renews all of one’s opinions, judgments and decisions, which takes place within, in the sanctity of God, manifested to us in the Son. Jesus offered an example by dying for the sins of the world.

Since the Church is linked to Jesus, the penance of an individual also has an intimate relationship with the whole community. When one does the sacrament of penance one receives God’s forgiveness as well as reconciling with the Church, which aids in their conversion. Therefore, the task of participating in Jesus’ suffering affects our whole lives as Christians.

What are ways of practicing Penance?

Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are all ways of practicing penance. Another common method is to give up something that one enjoys, such as favourite foods, alcohol, daily entertainment, and the like. Serving others by volunteering is also a good way to practice penance as well as doing something meaningful for yourself.

What is the meaning of Fasting and Abstinence?

Penance cannot be separated from asceticism, that is, the practice of abstaining from worldly pleasures. By fasting, one clearly recognizes the flesh and spirit’s different and contrasting desires. The act of abstinence is not to punish oneself, but is aimed to free oneself. We often finds ourselves chained to our senses; a prisoner of our desires. By practicing self-control, one can focus on not only the necessities of the flesh and life on earth, but also on the life that comes after. It also gives one the strength to choose decisions that would please God, which is often the harder choice.

Audio Program: The Season of Lent

The Season of Lent and how Hong Kong celebrity Dicky Cheung looks at liturgy and fasting