Entering into Lent


Let not the year go round and round, without a break and interruption in its circle of pleasures.

Come down, then, from your high chambers at this season to avert what else may be.  Sinners as you are, act at least like the prosperous heathen, who threw his choicest trinket into the water, that he might propitiate fortune. 

Let not the year go round and round, without a break and interruption in its circle of pleasures.  Give back some of God's gifts to God, that you may safely enjoy the rest.  Fast, or watch, or abound in alms, or be instant in prayer, or deny yourselves society, or pleasant books, or easy clothing, or take on you some irksome task or employment do one or other, or some, or all of these, unless you say that you have never sinned....  Ever bear in mind that day which will reveal all things, and will test all things "so as by fire," and which will bring us into judgment emit lodges us in heaven.

And for those who have in any grievous way sinned or neglected God, I recommend such persons never to forget they have sinned;  if they forget it not, God in mercy will forget it. 

I recommend them every day, morning and evening, to fall on their knees, and say, "Lord, forgive me my past sins."  I recommend them to pray God to visit their sins in this world rather than in the next.  I recommend them to go over their dreadful sins in their minds (unless, alas! it makes them sin afresh to do so), and to confess them to God again and again with great shame, and to entreat his pardon.

I recommend them to look on all pain and sorrow which comes on them as a punishment for what they once were;  and to take it patiently on that account, nay, joyfully, as giving them a hope that God is punishing them here instead of hereafter.




John Henry Cardinal Newman. "Entering into Lent." excerpt from Parochial and Plain Sermons (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in March 2014.


Blessed John Henry Newman was born in London, 21 February 1801, and died Birmingham, 11 August 1890. As Vicar of St. Mary's Oxford he exerted a profound spiritual influence on the Church of England. Joining the Catholic Church in 1845 he founded Oratories of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham and London, was the first rector of the Catholic University in Dublin, and was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. He was declared Venerable on 22 January 1991. John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

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