The fourth season of the Christian calendar year is Lent. Lent, a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, is a preparation for celebrating Easter.
Historically, Lent began as a period of fasting and preparation for baptism by converts and then became a time for penance by all Christians. The First Sunday describes Jesus’ temptation by Satan; and the Sixth Sunday (Passion/Palm Sunday), Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his subsequent passion and death. The readings during Lent, until Passion/Palm Sunday, focus primarily on the meaning of baptism and discipleship, in continuity with the season’s original purpose. Because Sundays are always little Easters, the penitential spirit of Lent should be tempered with joyful expectation of the Resurrection.
Holy Week is the final week of Lent, beginning with Passion/Palm Sunday on Sunday, April 5 and concluding with Holy Saturday on April 11. It is during these days that the readings focus primarily on the last days and suffering and death of Jesus. The liturgical color is purple which symbolizes mourning, suffering, humility, regret, and the willingness to do penance, particularly fasting. The symbols are ash, stones, fish, whip, crown of thorns and the cross.