Carmel Bulletin, 22 February 2015
The large banners have come down and the plants and flowers are all gone. There may be less music, and instruments should only be used to accompany singing, as opposed to being used for solo pieces:
During Lent the altar is not to be decorated with flowers, and the use of musical instruments is allowed only to support the singing… (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 252)
All this is done for a greater reason than giving our florist, Sofie a break from arranging flowers for us every week (although with all her great work, she does deserve a rest). The “stripping back” of the space and even elements of the liturgy helps to focus us on the penitential nature of the season.
It is similar to what we are encouraged to do in our own lives. Lent is a time when we may fast, particularly on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays, or we may choose to abstain from particular things. Such abstinence may not be specifically from food, but may also be from other material goods or indulgences that we otherwise take for granted.
By taking the opportunity during Lent to do away with those preoccupations, we offer ourselves more time and space to focus on our relationship with God.
Through its twofold theme of repentance and baptism, the season of Lent disposes both the catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery… The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared [for Easter] through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises. (Ceremonial of Bishops, no. 249)