Lent Begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2

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The Lenten guidelines below are excerpted from a Feb. 8 letter from Msgr. Joseph P. LaMorte, vicar general and moderator of the curia, to priests and permanent deacons in the archdiocese. 

Ash Wednesday is a day that offers a valuable opportunity to set a tone for the entire season of Lent, as well as to reach out to people, some of whom are usually not often found in our churches. Aware of the considerable interest of the faithful in receiving ashes, every effort must be made through the reading of scripture and the offering of prayers to catechize them on the penitential character of Lent and the value of their Lenten practices. 

LENTEN FAST AND ABSTINENCE 

During the season of Lent, the Church urges the faithful to reflect a spirit of penance in their daily lives through performing acts of fast and abstinence. 

  • Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2, and ends on Holy Thursday, April 14.
  • Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. This is a serious matter within Church law. 
  • Fasting means only one full meal a day may be taken. Two smaller meals may be eaten to maintain physical strength but together they should not equal another full meal in quantity. Snacking between meals is not permitted. Catholics ages 18-59 are obligated to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Those who are not specifically obliged to fast are encouraged to join in the discipline of fasting to the extent that they are able. 
  • Abstinence forbids the eating of meat or poultry. Those who have reached the age of 14 and older are obligated to abstain on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Those who are not specifically obliged to abstain from eating meat are urged to join in the discipline of abstaining to the extent that they are able.
  • All Fridays of the year are designated as days of penance during which we are encouraged to practice self-denial out of gratitude for the suffering and death Jesus accepted for us.
  • The time for fulfilling the Easter Duty extends from the First Sunday of Lent (March 6) to Holy Trinity Sunday (June 12).

DISTRIBUTION OF ASHES should only take place in a church or chapel and during Mass or a Liturgy of the Word. Classrooms and gymnasia ought not be used when a nearby sacred setting is available.

FIRST SUNDAY OF PASSIONTIDE 

During the last two weeks of Lent in the dioceses of the United States, the practice of covering crosses and images throughout the church from the Fifth Sunday of Lent (April 3) may be observed. Crosses remain veiled in Lenten violet until the celebration of Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (April 15), but images remain veiled in Lenten violet until the beginning of the Easter Vigil in the Holy Night (April 16).

TIME OF THE EASTER VIGIL 

The season of Lent culminates with the celebration of the Sacred Triduum of the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection. The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night, celebrated on Holy Saturday evening, is not to be scheduled before dusk (Missale Romanum, Easter Vigil, No. 3, i.e., at least half an hour after sunset). In the Northeast, nightfall in 2022 will occur at 8:05 p.m.

MISCELLANY 

Other things to note: 

  • A parish should set a good example for Lenten penance by refraining from socials.
  • Extended hours for confession, as well as devotions such as the stations of the cross, are encouraged.
  • Reconciliation Monday will be held on April 11 in cooperation with the dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, with confessions available throughout the day. Times will be available very shortly.
  • The Mass of the Chrism will be Tuesday, April 12, at 4 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. 

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