Evening Prayer: Ash Wednesday (March 9th)

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Psalms: 102, 130
Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a letter to the Corinthians by St. Clement

Le Penitente by Pietro Rotari

 

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities. (Psalm 130:7-8)

The whole point of observing fasting periods is not so much self-deprivation as it is about hope and re-orientation. As we journey towards the Cross, lost in the desert of sound, sight, smell, taste and touch…… we long for something that is real

That’s not to say that the five senses are bad…..after all, we are a Church that believes in the essential goodness of the body which has been redeemed through Christ.

At the same time, there is a temptation to become to reliant on the body…on instant gratification, and the raw rush of emotion.

Lent seeks to get past that….by subduing the flesh (or additionally, things which are causing us to be lazy, stressed, or spiteful) room is made to contemplate the Spirit….to let Christ take his throne in the hearts of each of us.

Take some time in these next weeks and months to listen to what the Spirit–our advocate and guide–is saying to the Church in and through us. After all, we are all members of the one body of the faithful.

May we all, in the name of the LORD observe a Holy Lent and wander hand-in-hand with our Saviour….trusting in his great mercy towards us. +

Morning Prayer: Ash Wednesday (March 9th)

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Psalms: 32, 143
Old Testament: Jonah 3:1-4:11
New Testament: Hebrews 12:1-14

I must admit….whenever the big Holy Days in the calendar arrive, I always feel myself pulled in a million different directions. Should I talk strictly about the readings appointed for the day? Should I explain the rationale behind the observance of Ash Wednesday and Lent? Should I talk about the major themes associated with the liturgical season??? Oi vay! So many decisions to make. :S

I suppose I want to start by saying that Lent is important. Beginning with Ash Wednesday……we are confronted by this basic fact: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Today, we are asked not only to contemplate our own mortality……and to face what is perhaps the even bigger question of “what do I do now???”

I wish that the Anglican Church would add the follow-up phrase to the imposition of ashes that I grew up with in the Roman Catholic church……”Remember, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; Repent and believe in the Good News

Ash Wednesday is not just about turning away from the things that separate us from God, but to embrace the remedy for the defilement of our sins…to look to the Great Physician who binds up our wounds, soothes our pain, and heals our broken hearts. ❤

The first step in this process is repentance. To recognize and turn away those things which cause us to hurt others, and which lead us away from God; Those times when we live as though we are worthless sinners who cannot be redeemed; forgetting our true heritage as people who have been blessed, cleansed, and purified in the waters of baptism.

Ash Wednesday serves as the wake-up call for this awareness…… to begin the process of returning to the Father, and to remember our true calling: To worship God in Spirit and truth; to bring reconciliation and peace to all.

This is all very easy to write in a blog post…theologizing from a distance…..but this year, it is my hope that Lent could turn into something deeper. I want it to be more than simply an intellectual exercise.

May we all my have the courage to be intentional about getting to know Christ in these 40 days and together, observe a Holy Lent.

I confess to Almighty God
and to you my brothers and sisters
that I have sinned through my own fault.
In my thoughts and in my words;
in what I have done and what I have failed to do.
So I ask blessed Mary, ever Virgin, all the angels and saints,
and to you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the LORD our God.

+

Evening Prayer: Shrove Tuesday (March 8th)

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Psalms: 36, 39
Gospel: John 1:18-29
Patristic Reading: N/A

For I am but a sojourner with you;
a wayfarer just as my forbears were (Psalm 39:12b)

Since the early days of the Church, the season of Lent has been paralleled with the Israelites 40 years in the desert. As a result of the sin of idolatry with the Golden Calf (along with some other major offences) God declares that the 12 tribes must take the long way around, and wait for the entire corrupt generation to die off.

In this 40 year period, the emerging Jewish people are beset by temptations, infighting, jealousy, abuses of power…every trial under the sun.

Likewise in Lent, we read about how Jesus was tempted by the devil before starting his public ministry….of his internal struggle and frustration of trying to explain to the disciples that yes….he must actually die in order for God’s plan to of salvation is carried out. He even faces outright rebellion from his own disciples…..so intense that he must declare “Get behind me Satan!”

In these 40 days and 40 nights…..we too will be stretched. We will read difficult passages, and contemplate difficult teachings. We too will be tempted to cave on our fast. To go back to our old ways because it is comfortable and convenient. We may even be tempted to walk away from God completely :(.

Whatever the case may be…..we are called to make the journey….to see where the road leads…….and what awaits us at the end. May we have the courage not to look backwards; walk forward with confidence, curiosity, and hope.

I will set my eyes on your hill
Jerusalem, my destiny!
Though I cannot see the end for me
I cannot turn away.
We have set our hearts for the way,
this journey is my destiny!
Let no one walk alone,
the journey makes us one.+

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