Coming Soon: Lent 2022
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
February 24, 2022
No matter if we love this holy season or dread it, it is a prime opportunity for us as Catholics to prepare ourselves for the paschal mystery: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Lent is a liturgical season ordered to prepare us for the celebration of Easter. Lent begins at 12:01 a.m. on Ash Wednesday and runs to sundown on Holy Thursday. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday begins the Triduum, a short liturgical season ending the evening of Easter Sunday. 
What will Ash Wednesday look like this year in the Diocese of Rockford? 
Ash Wednesday ashes this year will be placed on the forehead of each penitent, and will not be sprinkled on the head in this diocese like they were last year.
In 2022, Ash Wednesday is on March 2 and Holy Thursday is April 14. Easter Sunday is April 17. And yes, Lent is a couple of days longer than 40 days. The number 40 is to be taken as approximate, not literal. 
A bit of history
The rules and traditions of Lent have evolved throughout Church history. The current legal document for the calendar is the “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar,” which was released in 1969. 
Lent includes those first three days after Ash Wednesday, and the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent. The Sixth Sunday is “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord,” at the beginning of Holy Week.
Very strict, much shorter fasts during Holy Week were practiced in the earliest years of the Church. The “Festal Letters” of St. Athanasius say that, in the year 331, the saint enjoined upon his flock a period of 40 days of fasting before, but not including, the stricter fast of Holy Week. A variety of fasting practices and days of fast were practiced over the centuries that followed. A resource outlining some of that is at: ( 
In explaining why the number 40 is meaningful, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message for Lent 2009, said, “Lent recalls the 40 days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: ‘Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and afterwards he  was hungry’” (Mt 4,1-2).
Whether it is 40 days exactly or close to 40 days is not what matters. We, after all, worship the Lord for whom “a day is like 1,000 years, and 1,000 years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
Rules for fasting and abstinence
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting. The law of fast binds those who are from 18 to 59 years old, unless they are excused for a sufficient reason (e.g., a medical condition that requires more 
frequent food, etc.).
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) notes: “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.”
Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence (as well as Good Friday). An exception is if a solemnity falls on a Friday. The law of abstinence binds those who are 14 years old or older.
According to the Church’s official rules: The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat [Paenitemini, Norms III:1].
Going beyond
Giving up something for Lent (or doing extra penitential practices beyond abstinence on Fridays and fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) is voluntary. You set the parameters. 
For example, if you pledge to give up sweets and a family member’s birthday is during Lent, you can determine initially that you will join in that party, have a piece of birthday cake with your family, and practice an Ash Wednesday reading (Mt. 6: 1-6) encouraging us to do penitential practices (fasting, almsgiving, prayer) in secret. And after the party, you can go right back to your penitential practice of not eating sweets.
Penitential practices can be fasting from a type of food, from a favorite pastime or from something that lends itself to addiction (caffeine, nicotine). 
Penitential practices can be additions to a normal routine/schedule to include, for example, a daily call to a lonely family member, attending a Mass during the week as well as on Sunday, or a weekly extra gift of money to a worthy cause. These work well to the extent they are measurable and rather specific.
Deciding to be extra-nice to others, for example, could easily leave us not knowing if we are keeping our Lenten promise.
One suggestion: before Lent, ask God what He would suggest for your Lent 2022.
Lent is all about preparing ourselves for Jesus’ resurrection. We follow the rules of Lent for love of Him.
“During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading Sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting,” says the USCCB website, which adds, “We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.”


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