Lenten Preparations - Scripture Soundings
Fired by the paschal experience of the risen Lord, the early Christians soon began to celebrate their joy that God was abroad in their lives and in history by celebrating Sunday, the Lord's Day, and annually celebrating the "Great Sunday": Easter, the Christian pasch.
As time passed, the early Christians discovered that the richness of the Paschal Mystery demanded more than one festival day to plumb its depths. The paschal celebration became a three-day festival called the Triduum (from Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday evening).
The paschal experience of coming to new life in Christ was so powerful, however, that it soon spawned its own season of celebration, the Easter season, whose joy extended fifty days. Thus, from the Triduum until the fiftieth day (Pentecost), Christians celebrate one feast--the paschal feast of Easter.
Influenced by the Triduum and season of Easter, which were highlighted by the ritual initiation and welcoming of new members into their fellowship, Christians eventually developed a season of preparation for that initiation. We call that season Lent. The Christian community (the faithful) spent Lent preparing candidates (catechumens) for initiation into the faith community.
This preparation culminated in the rituals of the Easter Vigil (baptism, confirmation, eucharist), by which the newly baptized were fully immersed into the Paschal Mystery. Primarily, therefore, Lent was and remains--in content and mood--a season of initiation.
Later, when the church recognized that some of the faithful had sinned and strayed from the path set for them by Christ, Lent also became a time for atonement and reparation, with reconciliation seen as a "second baptism."
Finally, influenced by the conversion journeys of catechumens and penitents, the entire Christian community (the faithful) developed practices by which it readied itself for Easter by renewing its own commitment to the paschal life. Thus Lent became a season of initiation, reparation, and restoration or renewal.
Today, all three themes and all three groups remain at the core of the Lenten season. Catechumens spend Lent preparing for the initiation into the paschal life. Penitents spend Lent preparing for reconciliation and a return to the eucharistic table. The rest of the faithful spend Lent renewing their commitment to living the life of the baptized.
No matter in which of these three groups we find ourselves, we all make the journey of Lent together, supporting one another on our way to the life-giving feast of Easter.
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Lent Scriptures - Scripture Soundings - Cycle A
First Sunday of Lent
Christ and Adam
Second Sunday of Lent
Listen to Him
Third Sunday of Lent
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Light of the World
Fifth Sunday of Lent
I Am the Resurrection
Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Faithful unto Death
Updated: May 11, 2008