Season of Lent

Lent is a period of purification and penance which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday.  Lent is the traditional time of preparation for catechumens, those individuals desiring Baptism.  “Lent is a solemn, reflective season of the liturgical year that is the preparation for the mysteries of Easter.  It begins on Ash Wednesday, lasts forty days until Easter (the forty days do not include the Sundays during Lent). … The forty days of Lent recall the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert before beginning his public ministry.  During Lent Christians are called to renew themselves through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving” (The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, p. 141).

The environment in the church is reflective of a desert with brown and green plants and earth tones.  This is to encourage all who participate in the liturgies to mentally travel to the desert of his/her life in prayer with the catechumens and with Jesus who prayed in the desert before beginning His public ministry.

As Lent is about penitence, starkness, and basically a “desert” experience, the décor is meant to invoke that.  Muted beiges, browns and greens are colors you would see in a desert.  The purple color of the vestments and altar cloths add to the penance and royalty aspect.  The arrangements focus on penance and royalty at two sacraments of initiation, Baptism and Eucharist, for the catechumens as well as for the rest of the assembly.

Brown invokes the idea of sand/desert, wood/cross, to the central sacrifice of the Mass.  Jesus Himself went 40 days in the desert to fast and pray to ready Himself for His ministry and became vulnerable in a truly physical way.  Then He offers His body and blood in real ways with the Eucharist and His physical death on the cross.  We parallel that in our sharing in His ministry, feeding from His body and blood and then offering ourselves to His people in the Mass and beyond.