Jesus comes to us and communicates His grace and presence to us in many marvelous ways. He said, before He ascended into Heaven, that He would be with us always, even until the end of time. Then Jesus ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father. How? Where? When is Jesus with us when indeed He ascended into Heaven? The response: in His Church, which is His Mystical Body.
The Church, in the Liturgical cycle, relives the life of Jesus every year. The two prime-times (Strong Seasons of Christ) every year are Advent, culminating in Christmas, then Lent which culminates in Holy Week and the pinnacle or high-point which is the celebration of Easter—the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, as followers of Jesus, to study and learn through these prime times, especially the Lenten Season that culminates in Holy Week, and Jesus, who conquers death by His Glorious Resurrection.
The following is a concise article on twenty-five ideas that every Catholic should know about the Lenten Season and Easter! Please read carefully, learn and memorize.
1. Season of Grace for Our Conversion
Every year, God, through His Church, His Mystical Body, offers us a special season of grace for conversion. Our conversion should be to renounce sin and to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Ash Wednesday
Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. The Ashes symbolize our mortality, that one day we will die and pass from time to eternity and meet our judgment. “Remember that you are dust and to dust shall you return.” (Gen. 3: 19)
Those who have arrived at ages 18 up to 59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday, as well as other days like Good Friday. We deprive our bodies of food so we can lift our minds and souls up to God.
4. First Sunday in Lent: Jesus in the Desert
On the First Sunday in Lent, we contemplate Jesus in the desert where He prayed and fasted for forty days, and was tempted by the devil. For us to conquer the devil, the flesh, and the world, we must imitate Jesus. We must both fast and pray!
5. Forty Days
Our Lenten journey lasts forty days—not including the Sundays of Lent. Forty is a key biblical number. The Jews spent 40 years in the desert before arriving at the Promised Land. Jonah preached Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days if there was no conversion. Jesus spent forty days in the desert praying and fasting.
6. Liturgical Changes
There are some Liturgical changes during the Lenten Season: Alleluia and Gloria are suppressed. Flowers are taken from the Church. The priest vests in purple—a penitential color!
7. Conversion of Heart
As mentioned above, Lent is a serious time of striving for conversion of our lives. When imposing the ashes, the minister can also say the first words of Jesus in His preaching ministry: “Repent (be converted) and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk. 1: 15) Jesus offers us three ways to arrive at this conversion of life! They are the following.
By praying, we go up to God and He comes down to us, to help us reject sin and practice virtue. All true conversions are ultimately the fruit of prayer—one’s own personal prayer or the prayer of others, and usually both!
By far, the greatest prayer in the universe is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If possible, Lent is a very propitious time to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as frequently as our time and schedule permit.
Jesus stated: “Some devils are cast out only by prayer and fasting.” (Mt. 17: 28) We should all choose some form of fasting with the help of a good Spiritual Director.
11. Confession & Conversion
One of the most efficacious means to attain true conversion of heart is by preparing our heart, mind, and soul to make a good Sacramental Confession to the priest, and let the Precious Blood of Jesus wash us clean.
The practice of almsgiving should not be limited to simply giving a beggar some money, food, or clothing. Rather, almsgiving can be interpreted in the manner in which we treat people. Most especially should we express kindness, compassion, courtesy, patience, and a genuine spirit of sacrifice with those in our own home! “Charity begins at home!”
13. The Way of the Cross
A very salutary practice to undertake in Lent is to make the Stations of the Cross. By contemplating these fourteen stations or scenes in the Life of Jesus—the culminating point of His Passion, we recognize how much Jesus suffered for us and loves us. Indeed, each of us can truthfully say Jesus suffered all of this for me!
14. Fourth Sunday of Lent
Two times in the Church calendar, the priest can wear the color rose in the celebration of the Mass—the third Sunday of Advent and the fourth Sunday of Lent. Why? This color symbolizes Joy. The fact that Jesus was born for us and that He suffered, died and rose from the dead for us is a source of infinite Joy! In allowing rose vestments in the course of these two penitential seasons, the Church is anticipating this Joy!
15. Holy Week
The Church enters the solemn and most important week of the year with Holy Week. Palm Sunday starts Holy Week. We call to mind when Jesus entered the City of Jerusalem mounted on a donkey, and the people acclaimed Him: “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Mt. 21: 9) Amidst these jubilant cries of exultation, they waved their Palm branches.
16. The Liturgy of Palm Sunday
The priest wears the color red—for the Precious Blood of Jesus. The Gospel reading is the account of the Passion of Jesus.
17. The Easter Triduum
The Easter Triduum, the very heart of the Holy Week celebration, comprises three days and culminates in Easter. These three days are the following: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These days are of the greatest importance!
18. Holy Thursday
On this solemn day, there is only one Mass celebrated: the Mass of the Lord’s Supper celebrated in the evening. This day calls to mind two of the greatest gifts Jesus bestowed upon the Church: Institution of the most Holy Eucharist and institution of Holy Orders or the Priesthood. This day especially should call us to renew our faith, devotion and love for the Eucharist and to pray for priests and for more holy priestly vocations.
19. Good Friday
On this day we stand underneath the cross with our Sorrowful Mother, Mary most holy, and with her teary eyes and pierced Heart contemplate Jesus, who suffers three long hours on the cross, shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for our eternal salvation. If you were the only person in the world, Jesus would have suffered His atrocious agony for love of you and the salvation of your immortal soul. Jesus hanging on the cross is the most powerful contemplation of Love in the universe!
20. Holy Saturday: The Silence and Contemplation of Our Lady of Sorrows
This day Jesus is resting in the tomb for the entire day. The theme of this day is to accompany Our Lady of Sorrows in silence. United with Mary, we relive the Sorrowful Passion of Jesus. All of His agony is still fresh in the mind and memory, the eyes and Heart of Mary. She relives Jesus’ Passion that day. We are invited to spend the day at the side of Mary and console her, even as she consoles us in our sorrowful reliving of the sufferings of her Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
21. Easter Vigil Mass: Jesus Is Truly Risen From the Dead!
This same night, with the most glorious Mass of the Year, the Easter Vigil Mass, the Church and the world at large celebrate the most glorious event in human history! Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead! Alleluia! He has come back from the dead in His risen Body and will never die again!
22. The Beauty of the Vigil Mass
In this Mass the catechumens receive the three Sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation. and the Eucharist. The Alleluia breaks forth to praise God. We sing the Gloria in unison with the angels. Then there is a long series of beautiful Biblical Readings summarizing the history of salvation. Following the Liturgy of the Word, we enter the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In receiving Holy Communion, we rise with Christ to new life!
23. Easter Day & the Easter Season
Easter, being such a glorious Solemnity, cannot be celebrated in one day, and in fact is celebrated over eight days. Jesus’ Resurrection gives meaning to all human life. After the trials, struggles, pains and sorrows of this life, if we persevere in grace until the end, we will participate in the fruits of Easter—we will rise with the Risen Lord and attain the purpose of our life—Heaven!
24. Divine Mercy Sunday
Graces abound! The Sunday after Easter, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. Those who have confessed and participated at Mass, receiving Holy Communion with burning love on this day, receive the Divine Mercy Promise: forgiveness and total remission of our sins. This can be compared to a second baptism; our soul becomes as white as the snow. If we were to die right then, immediate entrance into heaven!
25. Easter Season
The Easter Season lasts fifty days and concludes with the Solemnity of Pentecost—the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Catholic Church. During all this Season, the Acts of the Apostles, also known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, is read at Holy Mass!
Let us lift our eyes to Mary, who stood beneath the cross uniting her sufferings with the sufferings of Jesus for the salvation of the world. Let us also rejoice with Mary, and with overflowing and exultant jubilation, because the crucified Lord Jesus has truly risen from the dead, never to die again. “Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia, for the Lord has truly risen from the dead.”