Lent has begun! The last ‘Alleluia’ was sung at Vespers in Downside Abbey Church on Shrove Tuesday, and this morning’s Mass included the distribution of ashes with the phrase, ‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’.

Last year’s palm branches were burnt by Dom Boniface to provide ash for today. The Prior reminded the congregation of the three agenda items for Lent, as outlined in the Gospel reading: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But he also noted that, although we need to do enough for it to be a sacrifice, it also needs to be do-able throughout Lent and this is helped if our penance is specific. The 40 days of Lent prepare us to celebrate the great feast of Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection for 50 days.

Easter is also more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season for new converts to learn about the faith and prepare for baptism on Easter Sunday. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of new Christians.

You might think about joining us at Downside for the Easter Triduum and Retreat this year. Click here to book your place.