What is Lent?

Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving celebrated by all Catholics, and most other Christian denominations, that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday.

Why Do We Celebrate It?

Lent is a special time to refocus ourselves on God and seek to follow His will more faithfully in our daily lives as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Christ at Easter. The Church, in her wisdom, has given us three tools to do this: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

More About the Three Lenten Observances

PRAYER

Both fasting and almsgiving can help to prepare us to approach the Lord in prayer with renewed focus, a penitent heart, and a deeper yearning to grow in relationship. There are too many beautiful practices, devotions, and ways to pray to list here. Below are a few ideas to start with:

Call upon the Holy Spirit
St. Paul says, “…we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with cries too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). Start inviting the Holy Spirit into your prayer by beginning with ‘Come, Holy Spirit’, and watch how your prayer deepens.

Cultivate Silence
In silence we remove the constant noise vying for our attention so that we can hear the “still small voice” which is calling out to us. Try to add some silence to your day; at the start of your morning or night prayer, in your daily commute, or during a break.

Dive into the Bible
Scripture is the very Word of God, where he reveals Himself and His great love for us. St. Jerome said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Lent is a perfect time to introduce, or increase, this crucial form of prayer.

Head Over to the Church!
If you are able, make time for you, or the family, to go and pray at your local church. Whether attending Daily Mass, Adoration, or just going to pray in the Sacred Space, it is a wonderful way to spend quality time with the Lord. Many parishes offer Stations of the Cross, evening prayer, or other events during Lent which bring the people of God together to pray, reflect, and learn (You can find some of these listed below).

FASTING

In fasting, we interrupt our routines, prodding ourselves awake where we may have grown complacent, and open our eyes to what has taken our time and energy away from placing Christ first in our lives. When we give something up for Lent, we are denying ourselves, saying no to the things that distract us or keep us from Christ, so that we can say a greater yes to His abundant grace. Here are a few thoughts on fasting:

Make it Personal
What can you give or offer up right now that will help you the most in re-centering or deepening your relationship with Christ?

Make it Challenging, but Attainable
Our Lenten observance should make us a little uncomfortable. We should feel it! However, taking on too much all at once can sometimes be difficult to hold to. Start with what you know you can commit to and build from there if needed.

Make it a Prayer
We walk alongside Jesus in the desert and unite our sufferings with His, letting God purify our hearts and minds to receive Him more readily. Offer a prayer to the Lord to draw you deeper into relationship through your fasting, especially when it is difficult.

ALMSGIVING

Taking something away is only the tip of the iceberg of Lent. It opens us up to see what we need to add or put back in its place, which is what the other two areas of Lenten observance help us to do. Almsgiving takes us outside of ourselves, an outpouring of time, talent, or treasure which brings us back to who we are meant to be by giving ourselves away to others. We are always called to love our neighbor, but during this season of Lent we can intentionally rededicate ourselves to service in a wide variety of ways:

In your family
Take time to strengthen or repair relationships that need it. Write a letter or give a call to a friend or loved one who you haven’t talked to in a while. 

In your Parish
Commit to a Liturgical Ministry (Lector, Greeter, Usher, Eucharistic Minister, etc.) or another parish ministry. If you haven’t before, challenge yourself to tithe consistently.

In your Community
Volunteer your time at a Food Bank or shelter, donate clothing or items that you don’t need, or try to get to know your neighbors a little better. Just be careful about bringing baked goods, they may have given up sweets for Lent!

More Resources

PARISH EVENTS BY DEANERY

Below is a small snapshot of events hosted by parishes in each deanery. This list is not exhaustive, only including info that was available at the time of printing. We encourage you to check your local parish bulletin or website for more information.

Helena Deanery

Stations of the Cross w/ Bishop Vetter, followed by Soup and Bread
Fridays at 5:30pm @ the Cathedral of St. Helena

 

Evening Prayer (followed by Soup & Bread)
Feb. 16, Mar. 1, Mar. 15 at 5:30pm @ St. Mary

 

Living Stations of the Cross
Fri., Mar. 8 (followed by soup and bread) at 5:30pm @ St. Mary

Conrad Deanery

Stations of the Cross
Wednesdays followed by Soup and Bread at 6pm @ St. Michael The Archangel

 

Ecumenical Lenten Luncheons
Thurs. at 11:45am @ St. Michael the Archangel

Missoula Deanery

Lenten Book Study
Wednesdays at 6:15pm @ Christ the King

 

Lenten Reconciliation Service
Mar. 18 at Noon and 7pm @ St. Francis Xavier

 

Adoration
Wednesdays 8:30am-2:30pm @ St. Francis Xavier

Butte Deanery

Stations of the Cross
Fridays at 6pm @ St. Patrick’s

 

Soup and Bread for MT Tech Students
Sundays at 5pm before Bible Study @ St. Patrick’s

 

Stations of the Cross
Fridays at 5:15pm at Deer Lodge – followed by occasional Fish Fry

Bozeman Deanery

Evening Prayer & Series on Luminous Mysteries
Sundays at 7pm @ Holy Rosary

 

Stations of the Cross
Fridays at 5:30pm followed by soup and bread @ Holy Rosary

 

Ongoing Bible Studies
Wed. at 9am and Thurs. at 1:30pm @ Holy Rosary

Kalispell Deanery

Stations of the Cross
Fridays at Noon and in the evening @ St. Matthew’s

 

Ongoing Bible Studies and Groups
St. Matthew’s-See bulletin/website for details

 

Stations of the Cross
Fridays at 5pm followed by Fish Fry @ Immaculate Conception (Polson)

STATIONS OF THE CROSS W/ BISHOP VETTER
USCCB RESOURCES