OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

LENT

Lent is a Season of many layers, but all are joined together in the idea of the Journey to New Life. For the Elect, those who are journeying towards the waters of the font at the Vigil, it is a Season of final preparation, when the Word of God speaks to them of the mystery of death and life in water, their entry to the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection. For those of us who entered those waters few or many years before, it is a time to purify ourselves so that we can renew the sense of Rebirth as new creatures, washed in the Blood and Water. This is why Lent, like Advent, is a “season looking forwards” - our eyes are fixed on the road ahead, and especially on the Easter Triduum, when the Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, makes the Paschal mystery. All our penance and devotions should be carrying us somewhere, all our prayers and hymns and sacrifices should be leading us onwards and upwards!
 
Like Advent there should be an emptiness about Lent—music, vesture, decoration should all have a sparseness, waiting for the Easter Fire to lighten this Spring darkness. Communities should think about symbols they take for granted: Lent is about fasting: can it also be about thirst ? A thirst for the Waters of Life. Ashes, dust and sand can speak profoundly of the dryness of our Journey—so that we can revel in the Easter Waters when the Lenten Journey ends!
 

From the Catechism

CCC 540
Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: "For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning." By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. 

EASTER

And so we come to the Greatest Feast—truly a matter of life and death! Our Easter Night should, in some way, define who we are as the Church. Out of the darkness of sin and death comes a light—not just a faint beam, but a raging fire, which is shared so that each person carries the light of that fire, not just in their hands, but in their hearts— “divided, yet undimmed,” Fire and light are, and have been for many centuries, the first symbols of the Resurrection; as we gather in the darkness of night they will speak to the whole Christian person, and truly announce that “Christ is indeed risen!”
 
There is a second symbol of Resurrection: water. At the Vigil we bless and use fresh, living water. It is both a rich sign and symbol of the dying and rising of Christ, and also our way into that mystery: we become part of his dying and rising, and so receive the greatest of gifts—eternal life.
Easter, like Christmas, is not a day, but a season—in fact, the longest “season” of the liturgical year. An immense challenge to our communities is how to keep the light and life of Easter before us for the whole fifty days. An answer is to let our Churches and our Liturgies flow with fire, light and water for fifty days.
 
Each time we gather, we sing “Alleluia!”,  an affirmation that we rise in the Risen Christ: during the season, the Word of God speaks to us of the great “mysteries” - Baptism and the Eucharist, whereby we become and are the Body of Christ. The culmination of the Easter Season is the great solemnity of Pentecost. The time of new birth is behind us: now we live as the Church, empowered and enflamed by the Spirit. Pentecost leads us back into “Ordinary” time, when we will learn once more, year by year, what it means to follow Christ.
 

From the Catechism

CCC 654
The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God's grace, "so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. It brings about filial adoption so that men become Christ's brethren, as Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: "Go and tell my brethren." We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection.