Definitions Concerning Lent


Originally a celebration just before Lent. Carnival is Latin for “farewell to meat.”

Laetare Sunday

The fourth Sunday of Lent, which marks the halfway point, celebrated with rose vestments instead of the usual violet.

Maundy Thursday

An ancient English name for Holy Thursday. It comes from the Latin, Mandatum novum da nobis (“I give you a new commandment,” John 13:34) that began the ancient foot-washing ceremony.

Palm Sunday

The celebration of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before he was arrested. In Scripture, people placed palm branches on the road as Jesus road on a donkey into Jerusalem.

Passion Sunday

The Sunday before Easter (also called “Palm Sunday”) in which the passion of the Lord (the story of Jesus’ arrest and death) is traditionally read.

Spy Wednesday

A name for the Wednesday of Holy Week that alludes to Judas agreeing with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus.


The “Great Three Days” -the three-part celebration begin-ning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, continuing with The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday, and concluding with the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday.

On Palm Sunday, we commemorate Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem before his crucifixion. As Jesus rode into the city on a small donkey, the Jews gathered around him, throwing cloaks and palm branches on the road and exclaiming praises as he passed by. So at Palm Sunday Mass, there is a blessing of palms which the faithful hold as they process into church. The blessed palms are later kept in the home as a witness to faith in Jesus Christ. During Palm Sunday Mass, the Gospel account of the Passion of Christ is announced.
Holy Thursday
On Holy Thursday, we  celebrate a special Mass of the Lord's Supper  that commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. On the night before Jesus Christ was crucified, he changed bread and wine into his own Body and Blood, and he commanded the Apostles  and their successors through the centuries  to act in his stead and re-present this sacrifice.
So at every Mass, by way of transubstantiation, the bread and wine offered by the priest becomes Christ's Body and Blood again.
Just as Christ did for his 12 Apostles at the Last Supper and as he commanded them to do likewise, during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the priest  who represents Christ  ceremoniously washes the feet of 12 people in the congregation.
After the Last Supper and before he was arrested and condemned to death, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, accompanied by two of the disciples. So after the Holy Thursday Mass, the remaining sacred hosts are carried out of the sanctuary to an “altar of repose,” and the people go with the Eucharistic Christ in a procession to the altar of repose. People stay for a time, adoring the wondrous sacrament that Jesus instituted that day 2,000 years ago.
The Mass of the Lord's Supper finished, the church  now without the Eucharist  is truly empty. So the tabernacle light the tabernacle door is left open, exposing the vacant space inside. The altar is stripped bare of  its linens and candles, Holy water is removed from the church's fonts and the sacraments are not celebrated until the Easter vigil. Like the first Christians bereft of Jesus and mourning the two days after the crucifixion, the church stands unadorned until the Easter vigil Mass. 
Good Friday
Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. Those over 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. We refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Good Friday.
The Stations of the Cross devotion is centered on the Passion of Christ. While many pray the meditative prayer on their own throughout the year, it can be an especially poignant experience during Holy Week, when the entire church recalls the way of Jesus' suffering and death. By praying the Stations of the Cross, a person makes a spiritual pilgrimage to the principal scenes of the salvific Passion of the Lord, aided by artistic representations of those scenes.
On Good Friday, the church gathers for the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion, which includes a reading of a Gospel account of the Passion, Holy Communion (consecrated at Mass on Thursday night) and veneration of the Cross.  The faithful process to the cross  at the foot of the sanctuary, as if to receive communion. There each person reverences the crucifix with a kiss or a bow.  Ceremonies start at 3 p.m.  the hour at which Christ died on the cross.
Holy Saturday
On this day, the Church waits at the Lord's tomb, and meditates on His Passion and Death and His descent into Hell. With prayer and fasting we await His glorious Easter resurrection. Mary is also a Holy Saturday symbol. According to Catholic tradition, Mary represents the entire body of the Church. As she awaited in faith for the victorious triumph of Her Son over death on the first Holy Saturday, so we too wait with Mary on the present Holy Saturday.