Saturday, 29 February
5.30pm Holy Communion
Sunday, 1 March
Holy Communion services 7am – 8am – 9.30am – 11am – 12.30pm – 5.30pm
10.30am Morning lauds
4pm vespers and Eucharistic Blessing
5.30pm Holy Communion and the Ritual of the Imposition of the Ashes presided over by the Most Reverend Archbishop
The Ambrosian Rite has never recognised, “Ash Wednesday” as the beginning of the Lent (this year on 26 February), being typical instead of the Roman Rite, but rather has always started this liturgical period with the first Vespers on the sixth Sunday before Easter, that which is still known today in the Ambrosian liturgical book as Sunday “at the beginning of Lent” (in capite quadragesimæ).
A comprehensive explanation on the reason for this difference between the two Rites is certainly very complex. It is clear, however, that the Milanese liturgy tends to recall the tradition that one should not fast on Saturdays and Sundays as well as following the oldest and original calculation for Lent. In fact, it was considered to be the period that ran between Quadragesima Sunday at the beginning of Lent and the Vespers of Maundy Thursday, when the Paschal Triduum (the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection) begins. Ambrosian Lent is thus a period of forty days of penance, but not fasting, in preparation for the solemn Paschal Triduum.
Furthermore, for a long time, the Ritual of the Imposition of the Ashes was not celebrated in Milan in connection with Lent: for example, an order from the time of Saint Charles Borromeo in 1583 required that, in the Ambrosian Rite, the ashes are placed on the faithful on the first of the three days of penance (Triduan Litanies), which were celebrated before the Pentecost. According to more recent tradition, this penitential ritual was connected to the beginning of Lent, precisely on the first Monday, with the possibility of bringing it forward, for pastoral reasons, to the Sunday, when the worshippers’ participation is greater.
This year, the Ritual of the Imposition of the Ashes in Duomo will be carried out during the Holy Communion service on Sunday, 1 March at 5.30pm, presided over by Archbishop Monsignor Mario Delpini, and at the end of all the services on Monday, 2 March (Monday of the First Week of Lent).