Lent begins March 1st with Ash Wednesday, and goes six and a half weeks. The Easter Triduum begins on April 13th, Holy Thursday, and lasts through April 16th, Easter Sunday.
The day before Lent is known as “Mardi Gras” (“Fat Tuesday”), because it marked the last night until Easter when richer, fattier foods could be eaten. The traditional Lenten fast was much stricter than what we practice today: eggs, dairy, and meat were not eaten during all of Lent, so they had to be cleared out by the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The Brazilian festival of “Carnival” is named for this same practice of “removing meat” (carne levare) from the household.
During Lent, Catholics are called to abstain from meat on Fridays, and to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (April 14th). Abstaining from meat means consuming no red meat, pork, or poultry; fish has has been a traditional replacement food on Fridays. Fasting means restricting your food to only one meal, keeping any other food consumed that day totaling less than a meal, with allowances made for water and medicine.
Lent is associated with three spiritual disciplines: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We’ll talk about ways to practice these disciplines over the course of our Lenten study, in addition to our main program, which will be watching and discussing the Catholicism series by Fr. (now Bishop!) Robert Barron of Word on Fire ministries.
We begin on Monday, March 6th, meeting in the Spiritual Reading Room at 7:30 PM. We will meet for ten Mondays during Lent and into the Easter season, taking off on April 17th (Easter Monday) because the church is closed that evening, although we could have a social event elsewhere that evenings.