Many people wonder why the Sundays that fall during Lent are called Sundays IN Lent, not OF Lent. Are these Sundays truly part of the penitential season? In short, the answer is no.
You might not realize this, but the Sundays that fall during Lent aren’t counted as part of Lent’s 40 days. This is because every Sunday in our tradition is a scaled-down Easter service. We remember the redeeming work that occurred on that first Resurrection Day every time we gather on Sunday.
There is somewhat of a different atmosphere, if you will, at the services that happen during Lent. The hymns are a little more subdued, and you won’t hear Alleluias, except during funerals. However, celebrating the Pascal feast is always at the forefront of the celebration.
A period of penitence and reflection on our own mortality and what we can do to be better witnesses to Christ is good for the soul. However, even in the midst of the season, we celebrate Laetare Sunday, also known as Refreshment Sunday. This lessening of the penitential nature of the season helps point us towards that hope that we all anticipate.