National Catholic Register

GUIDE FOR LENT

What the Church Says

Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1438: “The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.

Fridays, Lent and Year Round

Canon 1250: “All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics:

“Fridays During Lent — In the United States, the tradition of abstaining from meat on each Friday during Lent is maintained.

“Fridays Throughout the Year — In memory of Christ’s suffering and death, the Church prescribes making each Friday throughout the year a penitential day. All of us are urged to prepare appropriately for that weekly Easter that comes with each Sunday.”

Ash Wednesday, Good Friday

Canon 1251: “Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Canon 1252: “All persons who have completed their 14th year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their 60th year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.”

Canon 1253: “It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.”

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Penitential Practices for Today’s Catholics:

“Traditionally, the canonical obligation of fasting has been understood in the Church as the taking of only one full meal a day.”


What to Give Up?

Ideas for Adults


Fasting

• Fast with one full meal, no snacks one day a week.

• Skip meat an extra day (or two) a week .

• Give up alcoholic beverages.

• Give up coffee (or reduce to one cup a day).

• Give up all desserts.

• Give up all unnecessary shopping.

• Fast from music in the car.


Prayer

• Begin (or begin again) the daily Rosary.

• Meditate for 10 minutes a day (daily meditations can be found at Catholic.net)

• Choose one extra devotion per week during Lent: Stations of the Cross, Eucharistic adoration or a weekday Mass.

• Read a book on the Life of Christ. For example:

Alban Goodier’s The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Fulton Sheen’s The Life of Christ

Frank Sheed’s To Know Christ Jesus

Romano Guardini’s The Lord

• Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s 74-page section on prayer. (Section four; less than two pages a day!)

Almsgiving/Charity

• Visit a nursing home with your children.

• Forgive someone and patch things up in a visit, or, if necessary, by phone or letter.

• Give up gossip, judging or profanity.

• Find one “act of forgiveness” to make every day: A driver who cuts you off, a co-worker who annoys you, a shopper who cuts in line, a store clerk who is rude or a family member who ignores your needs.

• Say a kind word to everyone you meet.

• Pay a significant compliment (or more!) to each of your children every day.

• Offer to watch the children of a new mother one day a week throughout Lent.

• Visit an elderly friend or relative.

• Save up a significant amount of money for a deserving charity or apostolate.


For Children and Teens

If none of the adult ideas work for you, try:

• Do chores without complaining

• Draw pictures of Holy Week events.

• Restrict your TV, Internet or music time.

• Restrict your phone time.

• Send a letter or picture to a grandmother, aunt or Godparent.

• Make a new friend outside your “crowd.”

• Be a friend to a shy person.

• Give up that bad place, person or thing.

• Choose a favorite toy, book or piece of clothing and put it away until Easter.



Stations of the Cross

Via Crucis

The Vatican’s Directory On Popular Piety And The Liturgy Principles And Guidelines No. 134: “The following may prove useful suggestions for a fruitful celebration of the Via Crucis:

The traditional form of the Via Crucis, with its 14 stations, is to be retained as the typical form of this pious exercise; from time to time, however, as the occasion warrants, one or other of the traditional stations might possibly be substituted with a reflection on some other aspects of the Gospel account of the journey to Calvary which are traditionally included in the Stations of the Cross;

The Via Crucis is a pious devotion connected with the Passion of Christ; it should conclude, however, in such fashion as to leave the faithful with a sense of expectation of the Resurrection in faith and hope; following the example of the Via Crucis in Jerusalem, which ends with a station at the Anastasis, the celebration could end with a commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection.

Bearing in mind whatever instructions might have been established by the bishops in the matter, the choice of texts for the Via Crucis should take a count of the condition of those participating in its celebration and the wise pastoral principle of integrating renewal and continuity. It is always preferable to choose texts resonant with the Biblical narrative and written in a clear simple style.”