Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, but the First Week of Lent begins with the First Sunday. This leaves the three days between Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday in an unusual liturgical interval; they are part of Lent, but not part of the weeks of Lent. Their official names are simply the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday “after Ash Wednesday.”
Fr. Francis, the Founder of the Anawim Community, noting the special character of this liturgical period and its connection to Ash Wednesday, coined a term to describe these days: the “Ashen Triduum.” In describing the Ashen Triduum he wrote:
“It is a time after the gathering of Ash Wednesday to come aside and withdraw for three days, to interpret how we are going to proceed for the journey ahead. The focus of these three days is essentially that of a retreat, a time to be alone with oneself before God, to be silent from within, and to take time for prayer and serious reflection.”
During this short preparation retreat, we may reflect on the way Jesus prepared for his own “forty days” in the wilderness. His immediate preparation for this period of fasting was his baptism in the Jordan. The Spirit who descended on him was the one who led him into the wilderness to do battle with the Devil. Let us use this triduum, then, as a time to recall the grace of our own Baptism and be strengthened by the Spirit for the demanding forty-day journey ahead.
Excerpt from The Anawim Way, Volume 19, no. 3. More information about The Anawim Way may be found here.