Praying the Lenten Season

Receiving ashes

What is Lent?

Lent is a Christian Season of preparation for Easter that reflects on the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness fasting and praying in preparation for his ministry. We also prepare by fasting, praying, and by charitable gifts and/or actions in order to return to God more deeply. Our goal is to become closer to God, our neighbour and ourselves, through the life, teachings, suffering and death of Jesus Christ as well as in solidarity with the poor. This is also the traditional time for a heightened preparation for those who are to be received into the Church at Easter. The liturgical colour is violet except for the third Sunday when it is rose-coloured. Neither the Alleluia nor the Gloria are spoken or sung during this period, except on a few feasts and solemnities that occur during this time. Musical instruments are not used except to accompany singing. As well, there are no flowers or decorations in the altar area during this season.

When does it start?

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) in the Western Churches and ends on Holy Thursday before the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The Lenten practices are still observed until the Easter Vigil.

How do I keep Lent?

One way to observe this season is through prayer. Each Sunday of Lent has a set schedule of scripture readings. Read and reflect on one or more of the scripture passages for the Sunday. Two questions you might ask yourself are: “What captures my attention?” and “How am I called to respond?” Keep your chosen reading in mind and reflect on it daily for the whole weeek. You may also choose to write down your thoughts and feelings on the verses in a special notebook. A popular devotion on the Fridays during Lent is to pray the Way of the Cross.

Scripture Readings for Lent (2011)

  • Ash Wednesday
    1st: Joel 2.12-18
    2nd: 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.2
    Gospel: Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18
  • First Sunday in Lent
    1st: Genesis 2.7-9, 16-18, 25; 3.1-7
    2nd: Romans 5.12-19
    Gospel: Matthew 4.1-11
  • Second Sunday in Lent
    1st: Genesis 12:1-4
    2nd: 2 Timothy 1:8b-10
    Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
  • Third Sunday in Lent
    1st: Exodus 17:3-7
    2nd: Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
    Gospel: John 4:5-42
  • Fourth Sunday in Lent (Laetare Sunday)
    1st: 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13
    2nd: Ephesians 5:8-14
    Gospel: John 9:1-41
  • Fifth Sunday in Lent
    1st: Ezekiel 37:12-14
    2nd: Romans 8:8-11
    Gospel: John 11:1-45
  • Passion (Palm) Sunday
    Gospel: Matthew 21:1-11
    1st: Isaiah 50:4-7
    2nd: Philippians 2:6-11
    Gospel: Matthew 26:14-27, 66

For more information

Lent 2011 with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto:

Salt & Light TV Ash Wednesday blog:

FAQs about Lent:

Archdiocese of Toronto's Liturgical Calendar for Lent 2011:

History of Lenten Fasting at the Catholic Encyclopedia:

PDF brochures on Lent from the Archdiocese of Toronto (from CCCB):

Creighton University - Praying Lent: