The penitential season of Lent begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, and continues through Holy Thursday, April 2. Easter, the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, will be April 5. The following are regulations and initiatives to help enrich one’s Lenten experience.
– Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence from meat for Catholics, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In addition, Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from meat. The norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding on members of the Church from age 14 up.
– Catholics are encouraged to make confession a significant part of their spiritual lives during Lent. For the fourth year The Light is on for You confession campaign is returning to the Archdiocese of Denver. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 5, all churches are asked to participate in an archdiocesan-wide night of confession. In addition to The Light is on for You, many parishes also host penance services during Lent. These will be promoted in weekly bulletins, on parish websites and listed at www.archden.org.
– Catholics are asked to focus more intently on almsgiving during Lent, which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. Almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God” according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC no. 2462).
– In his papal Message for Lent 2015, Pope Francis asked the faithful to open their hearts to God and to overcome a “globalization of indifference.” “Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others,” he wrote. “We are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure … It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.” Read the pope’s full message here.
– Many parishes pray the Stations of the Cross devotion at church on Friday evenings during Lent. Please check parish bulletins and websites for details. These are sometimes preceded or followed by a modest community meal, such as a fish fry.
– Retreats offered by parishes and apostolates will be listed on Denver Catholic’s online calendar here and included in the Bulletin Board section of the print edition throughout Lent.