Starting Lent

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  In the 1988 document you attached to an answer you gave…the one about Holy Week…it says that Lent starts on the first Sunday of Lent. (Paragraph 22-23) Most Catholic sites says Lent starts on Ash Wednesday. I will look to you for the truth as I usually do. Hope spring training for MLB is adding a bounce to your step.


A:  It says, “The first Sunday of Lent marks the beginning of the annual Lenten observance.” Then it footnotes two of the missal’s prayers for the First Sunday of Lent. The collect refers to the “yearly observances,” and the prayer over the offerings says “we celebrate the beginning of this venerable and sacred time.” I think that the Circular Letter is making a bit much of that.

It’s true that the word “Lent” does not appear in the titles of the preceding days: Ash WednesdayThursday after Ash WednesdayFriday after Ash WednesdaySaturday after Ash Wednesday. After that, though, each day carries “Lent” in its title. It’s probably one way of explaining how there are 40 days of Lent when there are really 40+. But all those lead-up days to the First Sunday are generally considered Lent – as the rubrics bear witness (no alleluia, purple vestments, and so on).