Seasonal Information - Lent 2023

"Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy."  Pope Francis

The single Easter collection will benefit Clergy Trust which cares for the health and well-being of all diocesan priests in good standing. Whether it is within our parish communities or in the community at large, our priests are making a difference every day. If you are able, please consider a generous gift to the Easter collection.


Lent is a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving -- a time set aside each year for believers to focus on Christ's life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.  This stretch of 40 days, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter, reflects the 40 days Jesus spent in prayer and fasting in the desert. 

Though there may seem to be a lot of rules, regulations, and traditions involved in this season of Lent, at its core, Lent is about growing deeper in our relationship with the Lord.  And the best way to improve any relationship is through communication, or in this instance, prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "This mystery [of faith], then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer" (CCC 2558).  Attendance at daily Mass, an increase in prayer time, and the devotional practice of the Stations of the Cross are encouraged.  

The Stations of the Cross, which follows Christ from His condemnation to His entombment, are practiced as a form of devotion.  Our Lady of the Assumption Church invites you to participate in the Stations of the Cross every Friday at 7:00pm throughout Lent.  If you cannot attend in person, view our virtual version with photos of the Stations from Our Lady of the Assumption Church and St. Maria Goretti Church.

There is always a bit of confusion between fasting and abstinence.  Abstinence involves abstaining from meat on Fridays, and is required throughout Lent.  Fasting refers to reducing our actual food intake and is only required in conjunction with abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  (See Lenten Regulations section below.)  Many faithful, however, choose to make a personal Lenten sacrifice, giving up something dear for the 40-day period.  This form of fasting is a way of denying ourselves the excesses of life so that we might be more attuned to the Lord's voice. It is also a way of disciplining ourselves -- strengthening our "spiritual muscles" -- so that when temptations arise in life, we are spiritually fit to stay on the path to God. And finally, fasting is also a way of participating, in a small way, in the sufferings of Christ and can be particularly powerful when accompanied by prayer and confession.  Sundays are not part of the fasting period.  They are excepted because Sundays are celebrations of the resurrection of Christ; each is a mini-Easter.

Almsgiving is another term for charitable giving. Alms comes from a word that means pity, while charity comes from the Latin word “caritas,” which means love.  Almsgiving fosters our relationship with our sisters and brothers, and helps loosen unhealthy attachments to worldly possessions. All gifts come from God and they are meant to be shared -- be that our time, talent, or treasure. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be good stewards of God’s blessings.

Because of the austerity of Lent, Alleluia is not said in prayer or sung in liturgy. The Gloria is not sung at Mass during Lent except for a few possible feasts and solemnities.  The liturgical color of Lent is violet, just as for Advent. Rose-colored vestments, however, are used on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, called Laetare Sunday from the first words of that day's Introit at Mass, Laetare Jerusalem ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem").

The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week, and it begins with Palm Sunday.  On Holy Thursday, the Last Supper is celebrated.  On Good Friday, the trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Christ is commemorated.  Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter season.

Lenten Regulations

The purpose of fasting and abstinence is to focus on the spiritual instead of the corporeal, practice self-discipline, imitate Christ, and perform penance.

Abstinence - Catholics over the age of 14 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent.  

Fasting - Catholics between the age of 18 and 59 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On these days, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and fruit juices are allowed.  Common sense should prevail at all times and those who are ill, have chronic health issues, or are pregnant or nursing are excused.

Here's an idea for those who have attempted over the years to make grand gestures for their Lenten sacrifice, only to find it quickly thrown in the same dejected pile as their New Year's resolution.  Instead of giving up one impossibly difficult thing for 40 days, try giving up a myriad of small things every day for 5 minutes at a time. Not only will you likely not feel like you "failed Lent" because you caved in on your sacrifice, but you will have dozens of opportunities every day to turn your thoughts to God. It's called the 5-minute sacrifice for Lent.

The Family Table and Meatless Meals

Researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time: sharing a family meal is good for the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health of all family members. Studies link regular family dinners with lower rates of substance abuse, depression, obesity, and eating disorders; and higher academic achievement, resiliency, and self-esteem.  They even serve as a better vocabulary-booster than reading!  By committing to family dinners, our children learn about priorities and accountability.  Sitting around a multigenerational table teaches our children manners, eye contact, storytelling, and taking turns.  As parents and grandparents share stories of adversities overcome, struggles endured, fears faced, and lessons learned, our children learn fortitude, optimism, and the steadfastness of the Lord.  And there is no more powerful way to pass on a living faith and communicate a family’s values.

Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus often taught at the table, and at times portrayed the Kingdom of God as a festive banquet. He also chose a mealtime – at supper – to give his disciples his spiritual testament embodied in the gift of his Body and of his Blood as saving Food and Drink.

Venerable Catherine McAuley said that one Eucharist well received is sufficient to make a saint. Ultimately the Eucharist is the perfection of the family meal -- sacrifice and love with God and His family (our family) around the table. This Lent, return to the family table. Invite people over. Plan intentional meals. Share your hearts. Laugh and love.

Here are some ideas on how to make this time special:

  • Find a way to signal the end to whatever activities, chaos, and squabbles that preceded and the beginning of this focused time for family.  Try ringing a bell like they do at the beginning of Mass – a cow bell, sleigh bells, or even a cellphone-generated ping – or click on some background music (check out our parish Spotify).
  • Place some votive candles on the table and ask each person to light a candle for the intention of someone else or in gratitude for a prayer answered.
  • Ask family members to share the high point and low point of their day.  Make it a sort of mini-Examen by asking each person to identify how God was present or at work during their day.
  • Bookend the meal with prayers. Say grace before the meal, and another short prayer after: "We give Thee thanks, Almighty God, For these and all Thy gifts, Which we have received, From Thy goodness, Through Christ our Lord. Amen"

Meatless Meal Recipes

Week 1 Meatless Meal Recipe
Week 2 Meatless Meal Recipe
Week 3 Meatless Meal Recipe
Week 4 Meatless Meal Recipe
Week 5 Meatless Meal Recipe
Week 6 Meatless Meal Recipe

Online Lenten Retreat Flyer 2023

Online Lenten Retreat

In the midst of our busy lives, you’re invited to take a little time for yourself and for God through this online retreat.  You can access reflections, resources, prayers, and even meatless recipes — when your schedule allows.  Click here:




Stations of the Cross

Fridays throughout Lent, 7pm at Our Lady of the Assumption Church 

Lenten Stations of the Cross at OLA Flyer

If you cannot join us in person, we offer this virtual Stations of the Cross featuring the Stations at Saint Maria Goretti and Our Lady of the Assumption Churches.  As another alternative, here are the Stations of the Cross and reflections offered by Bishop Barron: Word on Fire Stations of the Cross.

For our younger parishioners, here is a virtual Stations of the Cross for Kids.  Click here for a resource on Doing the Stations of the Cross with your kids

St. Vincent de Paul Lenten Food Drive Flyer 2023

Lenten Food Drive

February 25 - March 26, SMG and OLA 

St. Vincent de Paul is collecting food donations for My Brother's Table in Lynn and Haven from Hunger in Peabody.





Lenten Medjugorje Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary at SMG Flyer 2023

Medjugorje Eucharistic Adoration & Rosary

Wednesdays throughout Lent, 6:30pm at SMG

Please join us for Eucharistic Adoration and recitation of the Holy Rosary as we share the messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje.  Throughout Lent, we will pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, but with different meditations each week.

Morning of Reflection with Aldona Lingertat at SMG Flyer 02/25/23

Morning of Reflection

February 25, 10:30-11:30am at SMG 

All are invited to this morning of reflection and discussion on our role and call to be disciples in today's world.  Guest speaker will be Dr. Aldona Lingertat, Adjunct Faculty at St. John's Seminary and former Director of the Master of Arts in Ministry program and Master of Theological Studies program.  Contact Kate McGrath, Pastoral Associate, via email or at 781-598-4313 x224.




Lenten Prayer Service Flyer at OLA 03/06/23

Lenten Prayer Service: At the Foot of the Cross

Monday, March 6, 6:30pm at Our Lady of the Assumption Church

Our Holy Spirit Ensemble will provide music for this Prayer service.




Lenten Movie 2023: Trouble with Angels Flyer 03/15/23

Lenten Movie

Wednesday, March 15, 9:30am at OLA's Church Hall

Please join us for our Lenten Movie Morning featuring "Trouble with Angels," a 1966 comedy about the adventures of two girls in a Catholic school.  Contact Angela Siraco at 978-535-0009.






Holy Hour for Peace in Our World Flyer 03/20/23

Holy Hour for Peace

March 20, 6:30pm at St. Maria Goretti Church

It seems like the news these days is replete with tragic stories of violence -- within families, in our local community, and across the globe. Has a particular news story touched your heart? Have you felt especially motivated to pray for peace for a person or a situation? Our parish's Holy Spirit Ensemble and Justice for Jesus ministry are collaborating to offer a Holy Hour for Peace with prayer, song, and Adoration. Let us come together, mutually supporting one another and those in great need for the peace of Our Lord. You are invited, encouraged, and needed. For more information, please contact Kate McGrath via email or at 781-598-4313 x224.


Feast of the Annunciation Brunch Flyer 03/26/23

Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord Brunch

March 26, following the 11am Mass at OLA's Church Hall

Please join us for brunch to celebrate Ave Maria Parish’s feast day!






"Seven Last Words From the Cross”

© 2018 by David Heyes
Performed by Susan Hagen

Seven Last Words from the Cross Flyer 2021

Ave Maria parishioner and Holy Spirit Ensemble member Susan Hagen performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is the principal double bassist of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, is on faculty at Berklee College of Music, and is a frequent guest lecturer at Harvard University. In August 2018, Susan gave the U.S. premiere of David Heyes's Seven Last Words from the Cross in Rochester, NY. And now, she offers our parish her beautiful music in this video, recorded for solo bass in 7 movements, one for each of our Lord’s final Words.

"Seven Last Words From the Cross" copyright 2018 by David Heyes; performed by Susan Hagen




Resources for Reflections, Meditations

Here are a variety of resources for you to find enrichment in your Lenten journey:

Daily meditations from Bishop Barron and the Word on Fire community:

My Catholic Life! daily reflections:

Creighton University's online ministries includes prayers, recipes, articles, audio conversations:

Loyola Press's Living Lent Daily email series:

Ignatian Spirituality online retreats and prayers:

Weekly Lenten reflections from Saint John's Seminary:

Music to Lift the Spirit and Celebrate the Season

Ancient Ways, Future Days: Liam Lawton
Christus Resurrexit: Taize
Gracious God: Jesse Manibusan
Crown of Thorns: Danielle Rose with Notre Dame Folk Choir
Rise Up with Him: Janet Vogt
Amazing Grace
Behold the Lamb
Create in Me
Christ, Be Our Light
Here at the Cross: Blakesley
Hosea - Come Back to Me: Talbot
In Christ Alone
Jesus the Lord: O'Connor
King of My Heart: Walton
Lead Me to the Cross: Hillsong
The Lord is My Shepherd: Blakesley
Only This I Want: Schutte
Run to the Cross: Blakesley
Save Your People
Take Up Your Cross: Cortez
To the Desert Follow Me: Hart
Turn to Me: Foley
With Our Eyes on the Cross: Walton