Lenten Guidelines & Resources

Entering more deeply into the Lenten season of penance and renewal

"Each year Ash Wednesday and its resounding invitation to let the Lord raise us up begins a very serious season, a quarantine — a 40-day observance of renewal and penance to seek the Lord Jesus and to accompany Him in His action of salvation for us, His Passion, Death and Resurrection. This salvation is done personally and communally in us, for we are called as the Body of Christ, the Church. None of us do this alone!"

-- Daniel Cardinal DiNardo --

Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving.

Below are the guidelines of Lenten observance for the faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. For key dates, please visit the Holy Days page of this website.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2023, and lasts until Holy Thursday, March 28, 2024.

Ash Wednesday is a universal day of fasting and abstinence in the Catholic Church.

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the imposition of ashes on foreheads “symbolizes our dependence upon God's mercy and forgiveness.

In preparation for these 40 days that will lead us to renew and embrace our baptismal commitment, we offer these ideas for prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fast and abstinence. 


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Fasting and Abstaining from Meat During Lent

Roman Catholics must fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Additionally, they must abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent.

As outlined by the U.S. Bishops' conference, “fasting is obligatory for all who have completed their 18th year and have not yet reached their 60th year. Fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal. Abstinence (from meat) is obligatory for all who have reached their 14th year.

The rule of abstinence from meat is binding upon Catholics aged 14 and onwards. This does not apply to dairy products, eggs, or condiments and shortening made from animal fat. Fish and all cold-blooded animals may be eaten (e.g., frogs, clams, turtles, etc.).

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the 'paschal fast' to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

Throughout the Archdiocese, parishes gather as a community in abstinence from meat for weekly fish fries during Lent. Contact your nearest parish to learn more about these community-focused events. Many are held before or after Friday services praying the Stations of the Cross.

Through our works of prayer, fasting, and abstinence, let us heed the prophet Joel's exhortation to return to God with our whole heart (2:12).

Lent is a penitential season and as such religious practices such as daily Mass, reception of the Sacrament of Penance, the devotion of the Stations of the Cross, works of charity and justice, and acts of self-denial are highly encouraged.

Like millions of Catholics across the world, the Pope himself receives ashes on Ash Wednesday.

"The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ is a priceless gift of God’s mercy."

Pope Francis, 2019 Message for Lent

 


Recipes: Meatless Meals from Around the World

  • Each Friday of Lent, we abstain from eating meat as a way to experience a little of the hunger that many experience daily. Journey with us around the world and incorporate these Lenten recipes into your meatless Fridays. Give the money you saved each week by not eating meat—about $3 per person per meal—to your CRS Rice Bowl to feed those in need around the world.

For the recipes, visit Catholic Relief Service Rice Bowl project.


 

The USCCB offers many resources to help Catholics observe Lent, including audio recordings of scripture, daily reflections, downloadable calendar, and more - www.usccb.org/lent

Catholics are also encouraged to make going to confession a significant part of their spiritual lives during Lent.  The U.S. Bishops' statement, "God's Gift of Forgiveness: The Pastoral Exhortation on the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation" can be distributed and shared in parishes.  Dioceses are encouraged to make the sacrament available often during Lent and to use these resources to promote participation.  We also have resources to help individuals who have not been to confession in a while "rediscover" the sacrament. 

Praying the Stations of the Cross

Beginning as the practice of pious pilgrims to Jerusalem, the devotion multiplied after fewer faithful could make the journey to the Holy Land, he said. It eventually took the form of the 14 stations currently found in almost every church.

Those who pray the Stations of the Cross can also gain a plenary indulgence on any Friday in Lent and a partial indulgence on other days of the year, with the addition of prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions. Those who cannot do the full exercise of the Way of the Cross, which includes the physical genuflecting and kneeling at certain parts of the prayers, may gain the same indulgence by sending at least one half an hour intently reading and meditating on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, according to the U.S. Bishops Conference.

A plenary indulgence grants the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin, and must be coupled with a sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, praying for the Holy Father’s intentions and complete detachment from all sin, including venial. 

From the Texas Catholic Herald

These stories explore different parts of the Lenten season, including messages from Cardinal DiNardo, Pope Francis and other aspects of the Church.

VIDEOS