The 40-day Lenten Fast finds its origins in the scriptures: Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his public life. In Lent we unite ourselves with Him in works of fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR LENT?
Lent is that special time for renewing our Faith. It is a time to turn back to God and to the things that are really important. Below are some suggestions that might help you use this time well.
Weekday Mass1The Mass is the source and summit of our faith; without it, there is no Church. Here we meet Jesus Christ in His Word and in the Eucharist, the sacrament of His Body and Blood. In addition to Sunday Mass, why not try to get to Mass on a day during the week?
Stations of the Cross2Lent is a journey; it is a pilgrimage of faith with our Lord to God the Father. On each Sunday of Lent at 3pm the parish will pray the Stations of the Cross. Come and unite yourself with Jesus in His journey to Calvary and to God. Alternatively, you could make the Stations by yourself in the quiet of the church, just spending a few moments at each station remembering our Lord’s journey. This year we also have some alternative Stations of the Cross - two or three scenes per week - on display in the narthex. Reflections and prayers are available by the display.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament3Prayer is a vital part of any Lenten resolution. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration every Saturday morning in the church from the end of 10am Mass to 12noon, and also each weekday morning from 7am to 8am.
Visiting the Church4Of course, we can call into church during the day just to spend five quiet minutes in prayer in the presence of Our Lord. Whenever you are passing the church, call in for a moment’s prayer. On weekdays the church is usually open from 7am until 6pm (sometimes later), and at weekends from 8:30am until the end of the evening Mass.
Prayer from the Divine Office5The 'Divine Office' is made up of moments of prayer at different times of day. It is prayed by priests and religious, but also by many lay people. Based on the psalms, we find ourselves praying with Jesus, using the very texts that He prayed in the synagogue during His earthly life. Monday-Friday during Lent, we pray Morning Prayer at 7:45am, as part of our period of adoration 7-8am. On Sundays during Lent at 3:30pm we will celebrate sung Vespers (Evening Prayer) ending with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Recitation of the Rosary6This is a Gospel Prayer, it takes place in church each day after the Morning Mass and before the noon Mass on Friday. It is recited for the intention of respect for all human life, from conception to natural end. You can also pray the rosary privately, at home or in church. A single decade only takes a couple of minutes!
Lenten Lunches7Fridays are a special day of penance. After the noon Mass ‘Hunger Lunches’ will be served in the Parish Hall (with occasional exceptions: please check the parish newsletter each week). You will be served with a bowl of soup, a bread roll and a hot drink. Your donation (we suggest at least £2) will go to our efforts to support persecuted Christians in Iraq, with Aid to the Church in Need (www.acnuk.org). Lenten lunches take place each Friday, beginning on 13th March.
First Friday Evening8 7 – 8 pm on the first Friday of each month, a gentle time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament with music and reflection. Especially important for Readers, Eucharistic Ministers and all who serve.
Lectio Divina9 Each Tuesday during Lent at 7:30pm (after the evening Mass) there is an opportunity to pray with the Bible. Lectio Divina (literally, 'Divine Reading') is an ancient way of praying with the Word of God: listening, meditating, contemplating then asking for the grace we need to put it into practice. We will pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, using a pattern of prayer taught by St Clare. With regard to Jesus, she teaches: Gaze, Consider, Contemplate, Imitate. No previous experience of this type of prayer is necessary. All are welcome.
Go to Confession10One of the most important things we can do during Lent is to be reconciled to God in the sacrament of confession. Here we have a guarantee of God's forgiveness, and we receive grace to help us grow in love for God and for one another. Maybe it's years since you have been to confession. Do not be afraid! The Lord is merciful and is waiting for you. Confessions are each Saturday 11am-12noon, and on request. There will also be a reconciliation service with individual confession and absolution - details will be on the parish newsletter. Be reconciled to God!
Spiritual Reading11In Lent it's good to deepen our faith with some spiritual reading. There are plenty of booklets and leaflets available from Catholic Truth Society (CTS) in the narthex. You could come along to the CTS Book Club, which meets during Lent on 8th March. Get a free copy of the month's book from the parish and read it in advance. Or you could always simply read part of the Gospel or some other Bible reading. If you picked up a free copy of 'Walk with me' at the beginning of Lent, this has a short reflection for each day.
Private Acts of Penance and Charity12These acts are between you and God. They may range from giving up sugar in tea to fasting for a whole day; from visiting a sick neighbour to giving up social media or leaving the TV switched off. Whatever penance or other act you choose to do, make sure that it is not beyond your limit. Aim at little things, do them well and thus avoid disappointment.
A Thought or Two for Parents13Lent is a good time to do spiritual things with children; they understand the importance of the spiritual when they see that it matters to their parents and when the whole family takes part. There are many things that you can do together as a family: a short time in prayer each night, a family visit to church, going together to Mass during the week, reading a bible story etc. Another thought – mums and dads, when you have dropped off your child at school just before 9 am, if you have the time on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday, why not call into church for the Mass at 9:15am? It would only take half an hour and is an excellent way to pray for your family. Or just pay a private visit? Most weeks a class from school will be coming to the Friday noon Mass; why not join them?
Perseverance14Above all, don't get discouraged. Even if you make a resolution and struggle to stick to it, keep going and trust in the Lord's mercy. We are not expected to be spiritual superheroes; instead, the Lord teaches us a way of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to help us grow in love. Whatever efforts we make, however small or imperfect, will bear fruit!