Preparation for Lenten Preparation

In the older, traditional Roman calendar, we have pre-Lenten Sundays: Septuagesima Sunday, etc.

These Sundays help us get ou minds around the fact that Lent, which was once a much deeper time of discipline in the universal Church, we around the corner.

Are you thinking about Lent?  It comes early this year.  As a matter of fact it comes at the earliest possible date this year. 

What will you be doing?

Given some time, you could make a good and prudent plan now.

What about your family and your parish?

Any plans?

Preparation for Lenten Preparation
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36 Responses to Preparation for Lenten Preparation

  1. danphunter1 says:

    What is the Church’s practical and spiritual reasoning for making the Lenten disciplines less than they had been before Vatican II.
    What are the new spiritual advances that have been made, in this area in the last 40 years?
    Just curious.
    As far as my personal penance:
    Confession every week,
    No meat on Wednesdays,as well as the usual Friday abstinence,
    Only two full meals per day.
    At least one weekday Mass assitance other than the obligation.
    Terce and None offered for priests and vocations.
    God bless you.

  2. Pleased as Punch says:

    My wife and I abstain from meat for all of Lent.
    We have done this for the past two years, and there
    is a wonderful “liberation” in it, for lack of a
    better word.

  3. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    danphunter1 wrote: “Terce and None offered for priests and vocations.”

    Maybe we priests should pray for good, holy, enthusiastic family life!

    Thank you and God bless you and your family, danphunter1!

  4. sacradoctrina says:

    Does anyone think that the ubiquitous question, “What are YOU giving up for Lent?” began as a result of the traditional, more rigorous Lenten experience being removed in favor of merely abstaining from meat on the Fridays (of Lent)? It seems that when the entire (Latin) Church was fasting every day in Lent in addition to abstaining from meat on Fridays there was no “need” to give up something additional, though I’m sure people did, of course. Just a thought. Thinking along the lines of St. Francis de Sales, it seems that it more mortifying to obey the Church’s discipline than our own. Since the Church no longer requires any mortification of its members, it seems that we are left to our own pride.

  5. Sean says:

    Fasting and abstinence from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday morning. No meat, eat less, eat plainer. Did it first time last year and couldn’t help smiling at all the beautiful roast beef falling off the bone that seemed to present itself wherever I went. That made it even better.

  6. Fr. says:

    I believe the earliest possible date for Easter is March 22. The last time that occured was in 1818 will not happen again until 2285 at which time I will be 336 years old.

  7. kat says:

    When I was reading the children’s lesson plans from Seton Home Studey School I was moved to attempt saying the Stations of the Cross every day during Lent.

    Since we don’t really belong to one parish, just hopping from one TLM to another as they become available in the diocese AND we have 5 small children we are going to do this at home. I cut out pictures of each station from last year’s SSPX calendar and they are already in our prayer binder in front of our home altar. I do hope our prayers will be acceptable and pleasing to God.

  8. kat says:

    When I was reading the children’s lesson plans from Seton Home Study School I was moved to attempt saying the Stations of the Cross every day during Lent.

    Since we don’t really belong to one parish, just hopping from one TLM to another as they become available in the diocese AND we have 5 small children we are going to do this at home. I cut out pictures of each station from last year’s SSPX calendar and they are already in our prayer binder in front of our home altar. I do hope our prayers will be acceptable and pleasing to God.

  9. Fr. N says:

    This is “Fr.” who just commented on the earliest date of Easter. I meant to sign off as “Fr. N” as if that made any difference. So, Fr. Z all the best to you and God bless all your efforts here.

  10. SMJ says:

    Go on confession,
    not eat chocolate (I’m a chocoholic),
    not eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays,
    pray the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart every day,
    pray for the Pope every day,
    and pray for the conversion of the heretics and for the conversion of the
    infidels every day.

  11. Josiah says:

    Saying the seven penitnetial psalms daily, with the litany on sundays/solemnities.
    My parish has stations and benediction every Friday of lent, and I’ll be there.
    Giving up sweets.
    committing to saying the daily office.

  12. Thomas Morrison says:

    Father Z:
    Stations of the Cross at my parish on Friday, daily Mass three times a week, the Angelus daily, abstain from large meals on Wednesdays, increase amount of time spent reading spiritually edifying books. I will also continue my tradition of taking Good Friday off from work and watching “The Passion of the Christ” that evening.

  13. Father M says:

    Thank you for another excellent thread. It’s marvelous to hear of devotion to devotions, of a willingness to take on and grow spiritually through mortification. By the way, in my last two parishes, we have revived the custom of “burying the alleluia,” which we did on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Within the ordinary form of the Mass, this was done by a simple declaration that the Alleluia was to be silenced until the day of the Lord’s rising. An “alleluia banner” was then taken from the ambo and put into a small casket, removed in procession, and “buried” in an opening in the basement floor. We did nothing at the indult Masses where I was helping out. But now that we have Summorum Pontificum and a weekly Sunday Mass in the EF, I will be investigating to see how we might do this. It can be a powerful visual signal of the coming of the great penitential season and it seems well rooted in the tradition of at least a few countries. If anyone has seen this done in the context of the older Mass, in a way that avoids the maudlin and has its own gravitas, please let me know. Thank you.

  14. Pistor says:

    Father M, The burial of the Alleluia was described in one of Maria Von Trapp’s Books, Around the Year with the Trapp Family – Maria Augusta Trapp. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1952 New York, Pantheon 1955. The date was right around the time of the restoration of Holy week by Pius XII so it would work in nicely with the TLM. A blessed penetential season to you…

  15. Geoffrey says:

    When I was a teenager (1990s), I began saying the Liturgy of the Hours (Lauds, Vespers, and Compline) during Lent and Advent. In 2005 I decided to purchase the Lent/Easter volume of the 4-volume series to include the Office of Readings as well. I fell in love with the Divine Office and I have been saying the full Office daily ever since. I am struggling to think of something to “add”. I am thinking of adding daily Mass. After just reading it here, I am thinking of making Wednesdays a no-meat day… which is hard for me because I love meat! :-)

  16. Clara says:

    We (my husband and I) normally do what we’re told was traditional prior to Vatican II — fasting (with one full meal and up to two small collations) and partial abstinence, and of course full abstinence on Fridays. Collations can be varied depending on one’s needs — I normally just do one very small one, because otherwise this wouldn’t be much less food than I eat anyway. My husband, being larger and having a more active life, normally has both collations. But we like doing it this way because there’s not much danger to pride. Anytime I start feeling too proud of myself, I just think, “Yeah, you’re pretty special. Catholics everywhere did this routinely for centuries, you know.”

    Once, some years back, I also did a full 24-hour water-only fast three days a week all through Lent. I liked it a lot in the beginning (on fast days I would spend mealtimes praying instead of eating), but it got to be too much of a “thing” by the end, because I was losing quite a bit of weight, and some of my friends were rather concerned (I wasn’t overweight to begin with, and I think they feared I was sick or had an eating disorder.) That’s another good thing about the more traditional fast — if scores of Catholics have done it, it can’t be seriously harmful! We still do a 2-day water-only fast, starting after dinner on Maundy Thursday and ending after the Easter Vigil. Every year, though, I vacillate about continuing this little custom. I think it adds something to the Triduum as a whole, but by the Vigil I feel so weak that it takes some effort just to keep standing through the long readings. Last year our Vigil went nearly three hours, and I found myself thinking that I might appreciate it more if I weren’t fainting from hunger.

    It’s always hard trying to fast in a way that’s big enough to matter, but small enough not to interfere with your other responsibilities.

  17. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    A great inspiration to me, these entries… As we come to know our weakness better, we can all the more be able to turn, in the midst of that, to our Lord as Redeemer, Savior and… Friend (as He Himself called us). Mortification is always a matter of love, or it isn’t mortification.

    Having said all that, I suppose that I should stop standing up with an ale and saying, “The Professor!” … it being now more than a week after the birthday of Tolkien!

    Yet, since special friends are visiting this evening, the glasses will be raised again. Cheers!

  18. Jenny Z says:

    These responses give me great ideas. :)

    I’ll be giving up video games (not sure if I can convince my husband to join me on that one…), as well as sweets.

    But family traditions I’d like to start in my new family (We just recently both became Catholic):
    Going to mass every Friday evening, with Stations of the Cross after
    Saying a prayer for the Pope every day
    Confession, of course
    And we may pick up a few more things from the responses here. :)

  19. suggestor says:

    Here are some general ideas for your consideration:

    – no tv, radio, movies, blogs!, unneccesary internet use, restaurants, unneccesary purchases

    – no coffee, alcohol, smokes, sweets, meat or dairy (or food group you most abuse), various fasting and abstince

    + confession once a week, daily mass, stations, rosary, spiritual reading especially of Lenten content, listen or watch Catholic videos or mp3s (so many free ones online!), attend events at Catholic Churches (speakers, retreats, classes)

  20. Thankfully, no matter how early, Lent never begins before Candlemas Day (2 February), so at least we still get to celebrate Mardi Gras. I always put in a request for annual leave on that Tuesday afternoon, and the following Wednesday morning. I tell them it’s for “pre-Lenten religious observances.” FWIW, I checked the calendar for the date of Easter, which in the West is the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. As I recall, the equinox is Holy Thursday, the full moon is Good Friday. You can’t play it much closer than that.

  21. L. says:

    All I hope for this Lent is to return to the Faith and be able to receive the Sacraments. Please pray for me.

  22. Tim Ferguson says:


    You certainly have my prayers…along with a request for yours. God rejoices at those seeking to return, and attends closely to them. Your own prayers are brought close to the ear of God by your guardian angel, who must be dancing with delight at your hope to return to the practice of the faith.

    I hope – and need – to make a retreat this Lent – some time away to simply focus on my own relationship with God and clear out the accrued cobwebs. and listen.

  23. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    THE key to a return to the faith is always the Sacrament of Mercy, of Reconciliation, of Penance. Zero reason to be afraid. Our Lord loves us SO much. Everything falls into the right perspective after this. We thank the Lord. More angels rejoice! As far as priests go — and they should be going to Confession too — find the one who is a lion in the pulpit, but a lamb in the confessional. BTW, who said that? You’ve got my prayers, too, L. But… Don’t wait for Lent. Our Lord wants you in His good friendship even right now… even right now!

  24. Geoffrey says:

    One thing I also do is take down my copy of the diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska, “the Apostle of Divine Mercy”. It makes excellent Lenten reading, and prepares you better for the Feast of Divine Mercy on “Low” Sunday. A great book by an amazing mystic. Very inspirational!

  25. RBrown says:

    It’s always hard trying to fast in a way that’s big enough to matter, but small enough not to interfere with your other responsibilities.
    Comment by Clara

    One of the best pieces of advice was given to me many years ago by a monk of Fontgombault, who was my assigned confessor during my few months visiting.

    He said sacrifices for Lent should be something small not big. Big sacrifices trigger movement from one extreme to another. And small sacrifices are more

  26. Mark in Spokane says:

    During Lent, aside from attending Mass at least once during the work week in the morning, Itry to focus on reading something on penitence by one of the saints. Last year I read a collection of sermons by St. Francis DeSales on Lent published by TAN books. This year I plan to read St. John Fisher’s Sermons on the Seven Penitential Psalms, published by Ignatius Press. I also read through the Book of Lamentations in a couple of different translations (RSV, New English Bible, Douay).

  27. Cathy Dawson says:

    Kat –

    Maybe you already know this, but you can still gain a plenary
    indulgence for your meditation on the Stations – though you may
    need to erect 14 crosses and actually move from station to
    station. The Handbook of Indulgences states that “Persons who
    are legitimately prevented from fulfilling the above requirements
    can obtain this indulgence if they at least spend some time,
    e.g., fifteen minutes, in devout reading and meditation upon the
    passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I don’t know your
    situation – in mine I couldn’t erect 14 crosses in my home (due
    to the marital strife it would cause), so I did the reading.

    Even the requirement to receive Holy Communion can be commuted by
    your confessor. I was not able to get to Church daily, so my
    confessor substituted making a spiritual act of communion. You
    might have to take along a copy of the handbook of indulgences to
    confession with you since many priests do not know that they are
    empowered to commute either the prescribed work or the necessary
    conditions. (Norm 27 from the Handbook of Indulgences:
    “Confessors are empowered to commute either the prescribed work
    or the necessary conditions in favor of those for whom these are
    impossible because of some legitimate obstacle.”)

    I think this Lent I’m going to work on trying to gain more
    indulgences for the Holy Souls. It would help me grow in
    holiness while doing an act of mercy, too.

    Thanks for the good thread Fr. Z.

  28. Celibatarian says:

    Easter is the first Sunday following the Paschal full moon (calculated, not observed) that occurs on or after the 21st of March (nominally the vernal equinox but not always.) It is the “on or after” that makes March 22nd a possible Easter date, though it turns out to be the least frequent date occurring in the whole 5.7 mil year cycle happening only an average of 1/2% were most dates land at the statistical average of about 3%. And Fr. N is exactly right, that wont happen again until 2285. Since that year also does not include a leap day as this year does, Ash Wed. will actually fall on the earliest possible date over all, Feb 4.

  29. dcs says:

    This year I plan to read St. John Fisher’s Sermons on the Seven Penitential Psalms, published by Ignatius Press.

    I have done that the past two years running and plan on it again this year. It is very edifying.

  30. David G says:

    Father Z,

    The Polish people have a traditional devotion that goes back at least 350 years – it is called Gorzkie Zale, which translates to Bitter Sorrows. It is a series of hymns and supplications that are meditations on the passion of Our Lord and Savior. The unfortunate trend towards suppression of European ethnic parishes across the U.S. makes this devotion more difficult to find, but it is remarkable for the haunting melodies and the cutting words and is worth seeking out. Translations are available, and some parishes do conduct these services in English. This makes an excellent devotion regardless of language. I hope to be able to attend these devotions every Sunday afternoon (3:00 is the customary time).

  31. mwa says:

    Most of the text of the first cycle of Gorzkie Zale can be read in translation (and some audio, too) at:

  32. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I will be fasting and abstaining, of course. Daily Mass (and a true Eucharistic fast beforehand). Prayer on Friday during the Hour of Mercy for the unity of the Body of Christ.

  33. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I’ll be listening to German Opera.

  34. Clara says:

    “He said sacrifices for Lent should be something small not big. Big sacrifices trigger movement from one extreme to another. And small sacrifices are more interior.”
    (comment by RBrown)

    I understand the theory, and have heard priests that I respect offer similar advice. I think part of the idea is to avoid spiritual pride, which is a real concern. But your monk confessor may also have an Aristotelian sort of idea here. Balance is good, virtue is a matter of finding the proper mean between vicious extremes, and so it is unhealthy to veer back and forth between one extreme and another (say, between gluttony and starvation) in different liturgical seasons.

    There’s something in it… and yet, the lives of the Saints offer many examples of holy people going to extremes, don’t they? Asceticism has a proud history, and many of the holiest people were extraordinarily unbalanced in their lifestyles. It’s a philosophical puzzle, to be sure… but from a spiritual standpoint, I sometimes think of Lent as a good time for letting a little bit of, shall we say, unbalance into our lives. I am by no means a holy person, but even I came to appreciate, during some of the more extreme fasting regimens of past years, that hunger can have a very chastening effect on mind and body alike. It was quite startling to discover what a pathetic creature I could become, in a remarkably short time, merely from a little thing like not eating. I’m inclined to think that it’s an exercise that should be attempted from time to time, particularly when one is young and healthy and not much inclined to ponder how frail we human beings really are. And Lent does seem like the most appropriate time for such things.

    It is also just a fact about my own constitution that I am not much bothered by minor deprivations or discomforts. It actually annoys my husband at times because, if I want to do a thing, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t walk a few miles in the rain, or skip a meal, or sleep on a floor for a few nights, or spend two days sitting on a bus, in order to make the thing possible. I guess I’ve just lived in a lot of places, under a lot of different conditions, so I’m used to adapting. It makes me a hardy traveler and an easy houseguest, but it also means that small penances don’t really achieve the desired effect for me. I’m inclined just not to notice them. Something a little more stringent is normally necessary to put me in a penitential mood. Anyway, it’s an interesting question. Asceticism has its dangers, certainly, but in our own culture I’m inclined to think that it’s undervalued, not overvalued.

  35. SER says:

    No wine or liquor and no dining out (except on my birthday and anniversary); black fast on Fridays; Matins, Lauds, Vespers & Compline daily; confession weekly; try to make Stations of the Cross weekly; Reading “Spiritual Combat Revisited” by Fr. Jonathan Robinson and “On the Passion of Christ: According to the Four Evangelists” by Thomas a Kempis. Off from work Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday.

  36. Just a suggestion for those who wish to practice an efficacious devotion during Lent. Ember Days fall on February 13th, 15th, and 16th this year. We use this time of fasting and abstinence to pray for our priests using the Prayer of the Confraternity of Saint Peter. You can find a better explanation of ember days than I can give at the New Advent Encyclopedia site.

    Adauge nobis fidem