BEFORE THE CROSS | Lent, a season of joy

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

The prayers of Mass refer to Lent as a "joyful season." But many people think of Lent as a sad time -- either because they're engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel sorry about what they're giving up, or because they aren't engaged in prayer, fasting and almsgiving and feel guilty about what they're not giving up. Why should we -- and how can we -- think of Lent as a joyful season?

Editorial | Yippee! A time of renewal

We often hear there are 40 days of Lent. That's close, but not really true.

When you count the days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, there are 46. According to the U.S. bishops' website, it might be more accurate to say that there is a "40-day fast within Lent." The Sundays of Lent are certainly in Lent, but they aren't prescribed days of fast and abstinence owing to the fact that the Church considers every Sunday as a "Little Easter."

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Let Jesus invest His mercy and love in you

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

The word Lent comes from an Old Saxon word, "lencten," which means springtime. Its root also is related to the German word for long. Hence, in springtime, the days are getting longer, which means more sunlight for the growing season.

FAITH AND CULTURE | Reaching out in hope

F. Javier Orozco

It isn't difficult these days to recognize what appears to be an ever-growing propensity for violence and division. Around the world, we see an array of violence that ranges from national wars and civil unrest to targeted attacks on individuals and groups of people.

Hot cross buns remind us of Jesus as the Bread of life

Father Francis Hein, O.S.B. from the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis, developed his own recipe for hot cross buns.

The pagans were among the first to make them. Queen Elizabeth I banned them. The British love them with tea. For centuries, hot cross buns have been a longstanding Lenten tradition. These densely toasted buns, loaded with dried fruit, spices and topped with a sweet trace of icing, have an important religious significance, according to Benedictine Father Francis Hein of St. Louis Abbey.

"They remind us that this is the bread of life that comes to us through the cross. And the icing signifies that we're rewarded with the sweetness of everlasting life."

THE GOOD STEWARD | Lent challenges us to experience the joy of God's love and forgiveness

Dan Conway

In his first year as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis repeatedly stressed the boundless mercy of God. None of us is perfect, including the pope who says simply, "I am a sinner."

We Christians are not perfect, by a long shot, but we are forgiven. That's a reason to rejoice and be glad -- especially as we prepare for the great feast of Easter.

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