Every year on Ash Wednesday we hear the same Gospel reading, when Jesus exhorts us to “take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them". As we scratch our heads in confusion, the priest will usually explain in his homily why our wearing of ashes is not what Jesus was talking about (not that it can't be, in some cases).
During Lent, we're called as Christians to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Mostly we understand why we take on these disciplines. The benefits of prayer are obvious, as are the benefits of almsgiving: giving resources of time and money to the poor and to our communities.
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning
Pope Francis has released his message for Lent 2017, which begins on Wednesday, March 1. For this season of conversion, Pope Francis asks us to remember that "the Word is a gift" and "other persons are a gift," and calls to mind the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
The Holy Father says:
It’s hard to believe that Lent is already more than halfway over—Palm Sunday is only nine days away. At this point, we’ve had the respite of both the Annunciation and Laetare Sunday. Now, we’re in the home stretch as we look ahead to Holy Week. So, how has your Lent been going?
This weekend we move into Holy Week, the most sacred part of the Liturgical year. Though we've been preparing for Christ's death and resurrection throughout Lent, our preparation becomes even more focused during this short time. There's so much that goes on during Holy Week, we thought a guide to the special traditions and liturgies would be useful.
Holy Week marks the most important time of the Church’s year. During this week, which culminates in the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, Catholics around the world participate in customs that have developed over the years to commemorate this most important event of salvation. Below are some of the most unique traditions of Holy Week.