Notes from the Clergy
Lent is upon us very quickly this year: it is Ash Wednesday this week! There will be three Masses during the day, and three opportunities to make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation: details below.
The word “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon name for “spring,” a time for growth, renewal and recreation: already we see around us the signs of spring in nature; crocuses, trees coming into bud. The Church mirrors nature in viewing Lent as a time of spiritual growth and renewal, in the life of the Church as the Body of Christ, and in our individual Christian lives. Yes, it is a time when we are called to exercise self-discipline, but not as a punishment or in self-judgment, but as an opportunity to come closer to Christ and to another, and, by his grace, to become more Christ-like. These 40 days reflect, of course, Christ’s own time of testing and self-discovery in the wilderness. So, in what ways do we at St. James’ wish to grow and be renewed as a church? How may each of us come closer to God? How may the image of Christ be formed more clearly within us, and at St. James’?
Traditionally there are three strands to our Lenten focus, Prayer, Fasting and Charity. I encourage everyone, including myself, to reflect before Wednesday on a Lenten rule.
It may be to come to an extra act of worship in the week, or to prepare more carefully for Sunday Mass; to come to the Lent Book Group, or to say Morning or Evening Prayer at home (feel free to take away one of the Daily Office booklets; appointed psalms and readings each day are printed in The Thurible). I need to make time for regular silent prayer.
Fasting may include abstaining from luxuries, for example, meat, chocolate, alcohol; but also from bad habits of language, gossip and being judgmental of others.
Charity urges us to consider how we might offer something of our time, gifts or money in the service of others in need.
Have a Happy and Holy Lent, that we may come together to the Easter Feast, refreshed and renewed in holiness.