Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14, this year and culminates on April 1, Easter Sunday.
In his 2018 message, Pope Francis urged members of the Church to take up the journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.
“If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew,” the pope said.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, plus two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Church from age 14 up.
Catholics are also encouraged to make reconciliation a significant part of their spiritual lives during Lent.
Miscellany/Deirdre C. Mays: Deacon Gabriel Cuervo places the sign of the cross on Cindy Bryan during the celebration of Mass held at the Diocese of Charleston’s Chapel of the Holy Family in Charleston, S.C., on Ash Wednesday 2017.