“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Matthew 3:1-3)
On Ash Wednesday we commenced the season of Lent, a time of self-renewal in preparation for our salvation: the commemoration of the Paschal Mystery when Jesus suffered, died and resurrected to gain us the Salvation.
The 40 days of Lent which began with Ash Wednesday, ends at sunset on Holy Thursday, the start of the Paschal Triduum (the three days that commemorate the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus).
By choosing to fast and pray for 40 days, the church tries to imitate the examples of Moses (Exodus 34:28), Elijah (1 Kings 19:8) and Jesus (Mark 4:2, Luke 4:1-2) who fasted for 40 days in preparation for momentous events that followed.
The feast of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week. Today is the day we celebrate the anniversary of the First Mass. It is also the day Jesus taught us the virtue of humility and service by washing the feet of his disciples: “Do the same for each other”. Jesus washed our feet and our sins as well. He gave us the gift of eternal life and nourishment for our soul.
It is called, ‘Good’ Friday, ‘for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life’ (John 3:16). On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. The Church - stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open - is as if in mourning. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people. We can see that the parts of the Good Friday service correspond to the divisions of Mass:
• Liturgy of the Word - reading of the Passion.
• Intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian.
• Veneration of the Cross
• Communion, or the 'Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.'
Fasting and Abstinence
In accordance with the instructions of our Bishop Paul Hinder All Wednesdays
during Lent should be observed as days of abstinence. Additionally, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday should be observed as days of fast and abstinence.
Out of devotion, abstinence may be observed every Wednesday throughout the year. Similarly, the faithful can also consider fasting more frequently during Lent.
Brown Envelopes: Our Sacrifices during Lent
Do remember to return the brown envelopes with your Lenten sacrifices on Good Friday.