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

1438 "The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)."

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

1168 "Beginning with the Easter Triduum as its source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance. Gradually, on either side of this source, the year is transfigured by the liturgy. It really is a "year of the Lord's favor."42 The economy of salvation is at work within the framework of time, but since its fulfillment in the Passover of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the culmination of history is anticipated "as a foretaste," and the kingdom of God enters into our time."
1169 "Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the "Feast of feasts," the "Solemnity of solemnities," just as the Eucharist is the "Sacrament of sacraments" (the Great Sacrament). St. Athanasius calls Easter "the Great Sunday"43 and the Eastern Churches call Holy Week "the Great Week." The mystery of the Resurrection, in which Christ crushed death, permeates with its powerful energy our old time, until all is subjected to him."