“Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.” Read Pope Francis’ full message for Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018, and continues until sunset on Holy Thursday, March 29, 2018. During this holy season, all Catholics are invited to pray, fast and give alms. We are invited to strip away the excesses in our lives to draw closer to the Lord and better serve him in the world. There are a variety of resources available for you.
Prayer and Reflection
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a variety of resources for your prayer and reflection throughout the season. They offer general reflections as well as a calendar of prayers for each day.
The Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions offer planning resources for parishes as they prepare the liturgies of the season. The Liturgy Preparation Aid is available in both English and Spanish.
Within the Diocese of Stockton, Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent, March 12, is particularly set aside to pray for the General Needs of Humankind. It is a day to remember the sick, the poor, those who live in fear of violence, those who are without the help and support they need.
Additionally, all parishes within the Diocese offer Communal Reconciliation services during Lent in addition to their normal times for confession. All Catholics are to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, and are strongly encouraged to do so during Lent. Contact your parish for dates and times.
Fast and Abstinence
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.
For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.
Members of the Eastern Catholic Churches are to observe the particular law of their own sui iuris Church.
If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the "paschal fast" to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.
For a deeper look at the meaning of fasting in our live, see A Reflection on Lenten Fasting.
Catholic Relief Services offers Operation Rice Bowl for families to read about the lives of people around the world, to reflect on the Gospel call, and to share with those in need right here in our own Diocese as well as around the world. Your generosity to this, your parish, a local chapter of St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Bishop’s Ministry Appeal, Catholic Charities of Stockton, and other charitable organizations is an especially important part of the Lenten Journey.
Again we keep this solemn fast,
a gift of faith from ages past,
This Lent which binds us lovingly
To faith and hope and charity.
More sparing, therefore, let us make,
The words we speak, the food we take,
Our sleep, our laughter, every sense;
Learn peace through holy penitence.
– Peter Mazar