What is it?
Lent is the season for preparing for Easter, where we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his passion, crucifixion and look towards his resurrection. We are asked to think about how we follow Jesus’ teachings in our everyday lives and where we need to change our ways, and ask for forgiveness.
When is it?
From Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday – forty days (the Sundays in Lent are not counted as Sundays are already the “day of the Lord”).The dates for Lent and Easter change every year because they are counted using the phases of the moon. In Australia, Easter Sunday occurs on the first Sunday after the first full Moon after autumn equinox (March 22), so then Lent begins with Ash Wednesday 40 days before Holy Thursday would occur.
40 Lent as a 40-day season began to develop in the fourth century. It began as the ancient paschal fast for a two-day observance before Easter but was gradually lengthened to 40 days. 40 is an important number in the scriptures as Jesus went into the desert for 40 days before he began to travel and talk to people about God and how to live. After Moses led them out of Egypt, the Israelites wandered for 40 years before entering the promised land, and in the story of Noah, the great flood lasted for 40 days. We count the weekdays and Saturdays between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, but not the Sundays.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Catholics traditionally receive a sign of the Cross made from the burnt ashes of the previous years’ Palm Sunday palms. These can be received in a prayer liturgy eg at school or in a hospital, or at a Mass. The sign of the Cross is made on the person’s forehead to remind us that we need to turn away from our sins and believe in God so that we can share in eternal life with Him. It is a day where Catholics are asked to fast if they can (see above) and to reflect on the ways they could change to follow Jesus’ teachings more closely. Many Catholics will try to change their behaviour eg by giving up a bad habit during the season of Lent so that when Easter arrives, they have made the change to live a better Christian life. The challenge then is to make the change permanent.
John Berney Crome’s Great Gale at Yarmouth on Ash Wednesday invites us into the Lenten season with a story told in the visual language of romanticism.
Prayer in Lent Year C
The Grace of Place created by St Columbans Mission Society consists of six weekly Lenten reflections to accompany the Gospels for Year C. It explores different aspects of how having a heightened sense of place in the natural world enables us to grow in our reverence for God, and in our care for all creation.
This Columban Lenten Resource is free of charge, however a donation for the use of this resource to enable their ongoing mission is appreciated.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross are a type of prayer which helps us to pray and think about how Jesus made his last journey to be crucified. They are prayed especially on Good Friday but can be prayed anytime. Churches often have the 14 stations depicted inside them for this reason. The Stations of the Cross are prayed by other Christian faiths and can be prayed outside like a journey with Jesus.
These resources have been created for whole school reflections in assemblies and Mass, as well as classroom reflections.
Explore and pray the Stations of the Cross for Primary students.
Gather, Proclaim, Break, Send have created this PowerPoint exploring the Stations of the Cross through the lens of Poverty.
For Teachers: Project Compassion
Caritas Australia is celebrating 50 years of Project Compassion with the theme “Learning more, creating change”, by demonstrating how education, training and sharing knowledge is empowering individuals and communities in six countries around the world to transform their futures and create lasting change.
The education resources that complement these stories will bring this theme to life in your school and classroom, and enable your school community to learn more and create change this Lent.
School students and parish communities are being urged to eat only slavery-free chocolate this Easter and not buy Easter eggs and chocolate that might have been produced using child labour from West Africa.
The Slavery-Free Easter Chocolate Campaign, a coalition of social justice groups, is asking people to buy only chocolate that carries a label (FAIRTRADE, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ certified) showing that the cocoa beans used in the chocolate’s production has been sourced ethically, from farmers who engage in good labour practices.
Take Action this Lent and get involved in the following ACRATH campaign:
Download ‘End Slavery in your School and Community’ poster and display in your community.
Encourage your school or community to include these notices in their newsletters and correspondence during the season of Lent to call all to take action against slavery!