SATURDAY 5 MARCH
- 5.30pm Vigil Eucharist
SUNDAY 6 MARCH
Eucharistic celebrations 7am – 8am - 9.30am – 11am - 12.30pm – 5.30pm
- 10.30am Morning Lauds
- 4pm Vespers and Eucharistic Blessing
- 5.30pm Eucharist and Rite of the Distribution of Ashes presided over by His Excellency Monsignor Archbishop
It is possible to follow the vigil celebration (Saturday 5th March) and the Eucharistic celebrations at 9.30am and 5.30pm (Sunday 6th March) live on television on the digital terrestrial channel 195 and in streaming on the website of the Diocese of Milan (www.chiesadimilano.it).
The Ambrosian Rite has never known, as the beginning of the Lenten season, the so-called "Ash Wednesday" (this year on March 2), typical instead of the Roman Rite tradition, but it has always made this liturgical season begin with the first Vespers from the sixth Sunday before Easter, what the Ambrosian liturgical books still call Sunday "at the beginning of Lent" ("in capite quadragesimæ").
An exhaustive answer on the reason for this different calculation between the two Rites is certainly very complex. It is clear, however, that the Milanese liturgy tends to take up on the one hand the tradition according to which one should not fast on Saturdays and Sundays and, on the other, the oldest and most original calculation of Lent. It was in fact considered as the period between Sunday at the beginning of Lent and Vespers on Holy Thursday, when the Triduum of the Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection begins. The Ambrosian Lent thus takes the form of a period of forty days, of penance, but not of strict fasting, in preparation for the celebrations of the solemn Easter Triduum.
Furthermore, for a long time, precisely in Milan, the Rite of the Distribution of Ashes was not celebrated in connection with Lent: for example, a provision from the time of St. Charles Borromeo, in 1583, prescribes that, in the Ambrosian Rite, the ashes are imposed on the faithful in the first of the three days of penance (Litany triduane) which were celebrated before Pentecost. According to a more recent tradition, this penitential rite was connected with the beginning of Lent and precisely on the first Monday, with the possibility of bringing it forward, for pastoral reasons, to Sunday, when the participation of the faithful is greater.
This year, in the Cathedral, the Rite of the Distribution of Ashes is performed during the Eucharistic celebration at 5.30 pm on Sunday 6th March, presided over by Archbishop Monsignor Mario Delpini, and at the end of all the celebrations on Monday 7th March (Monday of I Week of Lent).