From Ash Wednesday to Easter
By Michael K. Jones

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the great penitential period of the Church's year. In order to encourage her faithful to a greater spirit of penance and mortification, the Church places ashes on their foreheads. She thus reminds the faithful of the nothingness of this life, of the fact that the body with its passion and pleasures will pass away. She wants the faithful to place more emphasis on the affairs of the soul, to do penance for the sins of the body, in order to prepare to rise with Christ on Easter Sunday with a new and more fervent spiritual life. The ashes are made from the blessed palms from the previous Palm Sunday.

Lent is the annual period of 40 days proceeding Easter, which the Church sets aside as a time of prayer, fasting, and penance. In this solemn and holy season the faithful are invited to renew their hearts and deepen their spiritual life by imitating Christ's retreat in the desert and by contemplating the events of the Passion.

The Passion is the sufferings endured by Christ at the end of His life to accomplish our salvation. From the time of original sin in the Garden of Eden, the Scriptures make clear that sin renders man an enemy of God and subject to His punishment; yet even in the act of threatening punishment, God help forth hope of forgiveness (Gen 3:15).

The 5th Sunday of Lent begins the Passion. On Passion Sunday the Church is covered with deep purple veils which are symbols of the tragedy of the days during which the death of the Just One was being plotted. This period is known as the Passiontide and lasts till the next to the last week of Lent, where upon we begin Holy Week.

Holy Thursday is the day on which the Church commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. The ceremonies on Holy Thursday are concluded with the stripping of the altar which symbolizes the stripping off of Christ's clothing.

Good Friday this is the day that the Church commemorates the death of Christ on the cross.

Holy Saturday is the day before Easter on which this day no liturgical services are held. A day without Mass in which the Church continues to show her desolation and grief over the death of her Savior and keeps the day in mourning because her Bridegroom has been taken from her and lies in a tomb.

Easter Sunday, a feast day of our Lord's Resurrection from the dead.

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