|This article forms part of the series on the |
|Liturgy of the Preparation|
|Liturgy of the Word|
|Great Litany |
Litany of Fervent Supplication
Litany for the Departed
Litany of the Catechumens
|Liturgy of the Eucharist|
|Cherubic Hymn |
Litany of the Completion
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Lent is the season of preparation for Easter. Originally, it was the time when converts to Christianity were prepared for their baptism on Easter Day. In time, the whole church took on the season of fasting and spiritual preparation.
The length of Lent is forty days, excluding the Sundays (there are six Sundays, so Lent is really 46 days long). This timing is based on the forty days and nights Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness after his baptism before beginning his ministry, and various other forties in the Old Testament. The liturgical colour is purple, as fits the sombre mood of the season. An alternative is plain, unbleached linen: traditionally called lenten array. Flowers and decorations are generally removed from churches; immobile decorations are often covered up.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is often referred to as Refreshment Sunday or Laetare Sunday (from the Latin introit). In some churches, the liturgical colour becomes pink, and the severity of the fast is lessened for the Sunday. In Britain, this day is the traditional day for Mothering Sunday.
The last fortnight of Lent, from Lent 5, is often referred to as Passiontide. Although this period is still properly a part of Lent, the focus moves from personal preparation to the passion of Christ. The final week of Lent is Holy Week. The liturgical colour changes to red as the commemoration of Christ's passion approaches.