The season of Lent is traditionally marked by self-examination, fasting and preparation for Easter. It is a time when Christians reflect on the biblical account of Jesus in the wilderness.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, the most solemn time of the Christian Year. Ashes are an ancient sign of penitence: from the Middle Ages it became the custom to begin Lent by marking Christians with the sign of the cross in ash on their foreheads. Lent is a time for prayer and self-sacrifice. It is a season of spiritual preparation in which we remember Christ’s temptation, suffering, and death. As Holy Week approaches, the atmosphere of the season darkens. Bible readings begin to anticipate the story of Christ’s suffering and death. This is the beginning of a journey of the imagination which takes us to the Upper Room for the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, through Jesus’ betrayal, trial and crucifixion on Good Friday. Easter Eve, or Holy Saturday, is a day of desolation. Through the Easter Vigil, the Church gathers to call to mind the mighty works of God through reading of scripture, in preparation for the proclamation of the resurrection, which marks the beginning of the celebration of Easter.