Season of Lent :
A worthy celebration of the Paschal Mystery
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent - a period of
40 days given by the Holy Mother the Church to prepare meaningfully and
celebrate worthily the Paschal Mystery (the Passion, Death and
Resurrection) of Jesus Christ. This year Ash Wednesday fell on March 9.
The tremendous love of Jesus for us is clearly manifested in His own
words: "There is no greater love than this, to give one's life for his
friends" (Jn 15: 13). Despite our sinfulness Jesus calls us "His
friends. "How are we going to reciprocate Jesus' unfathomable love for
The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life and
mission. It is the very "heartbeat" of the Christian community.
Therefore, a Season of Lent centred on the Holy Eucharist will
definitely help us to reciprocate the unfathomable love of Jesus.
Recalling the significance of the Easter Triduum- the three most
important days for all Christians, namely- Maundy Thursday, Good Friday
and Holy Saturday will help us in our preparation.
Institution of the Holy Eucharist - (To be our spiritual food. To be
with us until the end of this world). Washing of the feet - (Servant
leadership). Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane- (Complete submission to
the will of the Father).
Scourging at the pillar and crowning with thorns carrying the cross
to Calvary Crucifixion Death - (The "Hour of Glory") Jesus suffered this
excruciating pain, mental agony and humiliation for our redemption.
Vigil of Jesus' glorious resurrection- (victory over sin and death).
Thus, our preparation should include the following:
There is no act of worship greater than the Holy Mass. Let us strive
to attend Holy Mass daily or at least on every Thursday and Friday in
addition to Sunday. Why Thursday? It was on a Thursday that Jesus
instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
Offer each Holy Mass as reparation for our sins and for the sins of
all mankind. Based on the structure of the Holy Mass, the following are
Sacrament of Confession - (Penitential Rite)
We have lost the sense of sin. Our conscience is warped. It is
"immune to pricking"! The need to make a good confession arises from our
genuine sorrow for hurting Jesus who calls each and everyone of us "My
Friend." Meditation on the passion and death of Jesus leads us to
genuine sorrow for our sins and this sorrow will lead us to make a good
confession and seek pardon for our sins. It will also give us the grace
to forgive those who hurt us.Do not wait till the very end to make a
good confession. The ideal would be to go to Confession just before, or
on, or soon after Ash Wednesday, and again during the Holy Week.
In this regard the following should be done:
a) Each parish priest should set apart specific days of the week for
Confessions (eg. Sundays, Tuesdays, Fridays)
b) Priests should make themselves available at all times to hear
confessions. Be at the confessional 15 or 20 minutes before Holy Mass.
This is the most effective way of encouraging people to make their
confessions. (Being seated in the confessional could be a "lenten
sacrifice" for our priests!)
Turn to the Scriptures
a) Listen attentively to the Word of God during Holy Mass.
b) Read the Passion narrative in the four Gospels and meditate on the
tremendous love of Jesus. Or, read completely. one of the Gospels during
the 40 days. (This should be done daily. Perhaps the time we spend in
front of the television could be reduced for this purpose).
c) Continue the habit of reading and meditating on the Word of God
daily, even after the Season of Lent.
Pray for the needs of others - (Prayers of the Faithful)
a) Pray for the victims of man's inhumanity to man - (eg. the victims
of war. terrorism, injustice. murder and rape)
b) Pray for the victims of natural disasters- (eg. tsunami. floods,
landslides and sea erosion)
c) Pray for the sick, the injured, the poor, and other less-fortunate
Offer ourselves to the church - and to the community - (offertory)
a) Use the God-given talents to help others, the Church and our
community. b) Give up something that is difficult to be without (eg.
favourite dish sweets entertainment drinks cigarettes) and donate the
money saved to the less-fortunate brethren. Encourage your children also
to do this. They can collect their savings in a till and experience the
joy of sharing it with the poor on Easter Sunday.
The eucharistic prayer
It is the most important prayer of the Holy Mass. Follow every word
of this beautiful prayer very attentively. During the consecration of
the bread and wine, thank Jesus for instituting the Holy Eucharist and
dying for us.
Receiving holy communion - (communion rite)
a) Always be in a state of grace when receiving the Body and Blood of
Jesus. Instil this need in the minds of all (very specially the
children, youth and young adults), making them aware of the warning
given by St. Paul in I Corinthians 11:26-29.
b) Walk up to the altar and return with joined hands.
c) Always kneel to receive Holy Communion. (The aged, physically
handicapped and those suffering from arthritis or similar ailments may
stand) d) Spend much time in silent prayer after receiving Holy
Live the eucharist (concluding rite:)
"Go in peace to love and serve the Lord")
a) Always remember the 'Washing of the Feet" by Our Lord Jesus
This is the perfect example of the servant - leadership of Jesus. Try
to be kind and understanding towards subordinates, employees, and
domestic workers. Our attitude towards our parents, children, siblings,
students, teachers, elders, neighbours, our less fortunate brethren and
even to our superiors and those in authority (including the Church
authorities) should be based on "the washing of the feet." The same
applies to those in authority too.
b) Visit the sick and the injured and those who are abandoned and
lonely, the aged, and other less fortunate brethren.
c) Give financial and material help to those in need and to
orphanages and other charitable institutions.
d) Be honest in all dealings. Be honest at the work place. Live the
Eucharist and let others see Christ in us.
Visit Jesus in the most blessed sacrament - (eucharistic adoration)
a) Let us visit Jesus, adore Him, praise Him and thank Him. b) Always
genuflect when entering and leaving the church. We should go on our
knees when the Most Blessed Sacrament is exposed.
Always be modestly dressed
Always be modestly dressed, very specially when in church and other
places of worship. Modesty in dress should not be confined to the Season
of Lent only.
Traditional lenten practices
The suggestions given above should in no way diminish the importance
of the traditional Lenten practices, which our forefathers passed on to
a) The Way of the Cross (Preferably daily. At least every Friday
during the Season of Lent).
b) Fasting and Abstinence on Fridays. Beginning from this Season of
Lent, try to abstain from meat, fish and eggs on every Friday of the
year, as a sign of our love for Jesus who died on a Friday.
c) Let one meal (either lunch or dinner) be vegetarian on every day
other than on Sundays during the Season of Lent.
d) Singing of "Pasan" (composed by the famous 18th century
missionary, Fr. Jacome Goncalves) in the churches or in the homes.
The Risen Lord Jesus wanted us to continue His Mission. He commanded
us; "Proclaim the good news to all nations. Baptize them" (Mt 28: 19, Mk
16: 15, Lk 24:48, Jn 20:21 and Acts 1 :8).
May this Season of Lent help us to celebrate worthily the Pascal
Mystery of Jesus, and also pave the way for all of us to become Spirit -
filled witnesses of the Risen Lord Jesus, in our families, neighbourhood