Saint Bridget's in Shenandoah Valley

The Lenten Season

Lent is the forty day period before Easter, excluding Sundays, which traditionally begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. This ennumeration does not precisely coincide with the calendar according to the liturgical reform. In order to give special prominence to the Sacred Triduum (Mass of the Lord's Supper, Good Friday, Easter Vigil) the current calendar counts Lent as only from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday, up to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Even so, Lenten practices are properly maintained up to the Easter Vigil as before.

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. All other Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence.

Fasting is one of the most ancient Lenten practices. The early Church fasted intensely for two days before the celebration of the Easter Vigil. This fast was later extended and became today's 40-day period of fasting leading up to Easter. Vatican II called us to renew the observance of the ancient paschal fast: "...let the paschal fast be kept sacred. Let it be celebrated everywhere on Good Friday and, where possible, prolonged throughout Holy Saturday, so that the joys of the Sunday of the Resurrection may be attained with uplifted and clear mind"

The first reading on the Friday after Ash Wednesday points out another important dimension of fasting. The prophet Isaiah insists that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God. "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Is 58:6-7).

By our Baptism, we are charged with the responsibility of showing Christ's love to the world, especially to those in need. Fasting can help us realize the suffering that so many people in our world experience every day, and it should lead us to greater efforts to alleviate that suffering.

Thus, fasting heightens our concern for those who are forced to fast by their poverty, those who suffer from the injustice and those who are in need for any reason. We can show our concern in a concrete way by making a sacrificial contribution to the From EWTN and Catholic Online Bishop's Lenten Appeal