Given that Lent is a season of preparation for Easter, a certain difference should be seen, heard and felt in the church. We are setting aside the usual festivity of decorations, color and music so that we could focus on preparing ourselves through intensifying prayer, meditating on the Word of God and fasting to clear our minds. Moreover, we should emphasize not just the personal but also communal aspect of penance during Lent.
The sanctuary should not be decorated with flowers. As much as possible, the sanctuary should be left as it is so that we can focus on the tables of the Word and the Eucharist as opposed to having other things to look at. The point is to remove what could distract us. We should also avoid decorating the niches for images/statues with flowers.
Floral decorations, however, may be placed in the sanctuary during the Solemnities of St. Joseph (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25) and on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Before the Fifth Sunday of Lent, the parish may opt to cover images and the cross with violet or black cloth. If the cross is to be covered, the processional cross may serve as the altar cross.
Violet is used for the Season of Lent. Lenten Violet is different from that used in Advent. Lenten Violet is more reddish than bluish while that of Advent looks bluish. Violet accents may be used to decorate the church but the decoration must be arranged in such a way that they do not distract from the purpose of the season.
White is used in Solemnities and Feasts within Lent, namely, the Chair of Peter (feast),
To highlight the communal and penitential aspect of the season, parishes may opt to kneel during the Act of Penitence and the first form (Confiteor + Kyrie) may always be used. Another option would be to remind the faithful of their baptism using the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water (instead of the Act of Penitence) but there must be catechism whenever this is used as the Sprinkling of Holy Water acquired other meanings in the course of time. It is also recommended that any of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation be used. They may be found towards the last part of the Sacramentary.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. In the readings, we are called not just as individuals but as a community to return to God with fasting, mourning and weeping, with sacrifice (Reading I) and reconciling with God now (Reading II) for we have sinned and he is merciful (Responsorial Psalm). In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to us on how to pray, fast and do righteous deeds.
The Act of Penitence is omitted. Ashes are imposed within the Mass after the Homily. If done outside the Mass, it should be within a Celebration of the Word of God. Simply imposing the ashes without the person hearing the Word of God makes the ritual an empty gesture. It is not proper to impose ashes on latecomers. They should be made to attend a succeeding Mass or a Celebration of God’s Word and receive the ashes from those celebrations.
The Rite may be found on page 6. The same rite must also be used for those who could not come to Mass due to sickness.
Ashes on the forehead are imposed in the form of a cross with any of the two formulae.
First Sunday of Lent
The First Sunday of Lent is an overture of what Lent is and a paradigm of a believer’s life. We are called to cling to God and his Word in times when we are tested. In the first reading, the Israelites profess their faith and respond to the God who saved them from
As the First Sunday of Lent, the Entrance Song may be the Litany of the Saints. Also, those who are to be baptized may be introduced to the community.
In places where there is such an Initiation, readings from Cycle A may be used.
Second Sunday of Lent
The Second Sunday of Lent gives us a preview of the glory of the resurrection. In the Gospel according to Luke, the emphasis is Jesus’ willingness to pass through suffering and death. This passage and the resulting resurrection should be the lens by which the faithful should also see their own passage from death to life. The first reading speaks of a promise of God to Abram, a promise he fulfills once Abram goes into covenant with him. The second reading speaks of a glorification of our earthly bodies just as Christ’s earthly body was glorified after he suffered and died.
Third Sunday of Lent
The Third Sunday of Lent for Cycle C has the theme of the necessity for repentance. The Gospel speaks of the parable of the fig tree after comments about the death of certain Galileans. Jesus teaches us that it is not just those who are punished that die but everyone who does not bear fruit like the fig tree. God, however, gives time for repentance. The first reading speaks of Moses’ call to free the Israelites from
When there are Catechumens, the first scrutiny is done during this Sunday and the readings from Cycle A are used.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
The Fourth Sunday is Laetare Sunday, the Sunday of praising. The sanctuary may be decorated with flowers and musical instruments may be played in the usual manner but still subdued compared to the full blast on Easter.
The theme for this Sunday is reconciliation as reflected in the Gospel passage which is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The parable is situated after Jesus is questioned for eating with public sinners. The image of Jesus eating with sinners is an appropriate image of the eucharist. Jesus welcomes all of us who are sinners into his table and feeds us just as God feeds the Israelites, who had reconciled with him, with manna and the fruits of his land (Reading I) and the merciful father in the parable who welcomes back and makes a feast for his prodigal son who has come back from death. The second reading calls us to be reconciled with God.
When there are Catechumens, the second scrutiny is done during this Sunday and the readings from Cycle A are used.
Fifth Sunday of Lent
The fifth Sunday of Lent has the theme of forgiveness. The Lord does something new and forgets the things of the past and by his grace, gives life back to the barren desert (Reading I). It is through Jesus who makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God that we are forgiven; we leave the things of the past and hold on to our faith in him (Reading II). The Gospel is about the adulterous unnamed woman whom Jesus saves from stoning and admonishes to sin no more.
When there are Catechumens, the third scrutiny is done during this Sunday and the readings from Cycle A are used.
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
This Sunday is both an opening for the Holy Week and the celebration of the Passion for the Sunday Cycle. The first part of the Eucharistic celebration commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into
Holy Week has as its purpose the remembrance of Christ’s passion, beginning with his Messianic entrance into
During Holy Week the Church celebrates the mysteries of salvation accomplished by Christ in the last days of his life on earth, beginning with his messianic entrance into
Feast of the Chair of Peter (22 February)
The Feast of the Chair of Peter finds its origin in the Roman feast of Paternalia, which is a commemoration of the dead ancestors, the dead father. The feast of the chair of Peter is a Christianized version of this Roman feast, this time celebrating the chair of the Romans’ father in faith – Saint Peter, its first bishop, and the office of the Pope as the father of faith of the entire Church.
The sanctuary may be decorated with flowers. During the Mass, the Gloria is sung but the alleluia is not. The Credo is also not said.
Refer to the article on page and to the Ordo. The sanctuary may be decorated with flowers. One image of
Solemnity of the Annunciation (25 March)
This solemnity is not so much a Lenten feast than a feast in anticipation of Christmas. The Annunciation is part of the Christmas cycle as it marks the event wherein the angel of the Lord announced to Mary her role in the work of salvation and the start of Mary’s pregnancy. On this day, the sanctuary may be decorated with flowers. The Gloria is sung and the Credo is said. The Alleluia is not sung.
During the season of Lent, celebrations that are meant to foster meditation on God’s Word and prompt the faithful to be reconciled with God are encouraged. The Order for these celebrations may be found in first volume of the Rites of the Catholic Church. Copies may be requested from the DMLA office or through email.
On the Issue of “Baccalaureate” Masses
“Baccalaureate” Masses must follow the liturgy of the day according to the Ordo. The Eucharist is always a celebration of the Paschal Mystery and not merely a backdrop for another occasion.
Since most, if not all, “Baccalaureate” Masses occur during the Season, it is a must that the spirit of the season be observed. The Gloria, unless it is a solemnity, and the Alleluia should not be sung.
Diplomas and medals may be brought in procession during the Entrance and not the Preparation of Gifts. Bread and wine and gifts for the poor may always be brought in the procession of gifts. Symbolic offerings are liturgically unsound.
The proper of the Baccalaureate Mass is found in the Supplement to the Roman Sacramentary.