My dear friends,
Speaking with a friend on the telephone last evening, when she had told me she had taken up preparing a family tree and I told her I’d perfected roasting and freezing potatoes, we decided that we would both reflect and make a list of the things we had achieved during the extra hours / days the pandemic has given us at home.
I think a similar attitude will help us all as we prepare again for the annual Lenten Fast—how may we offer the restrictions imposed on us to God as we seek, through repentance, forgiveness in preparation before the great Feast of The Resurrection.
Along with fasting and abstinence goes alms–giving. The traditional Lent boxes will be available in Church ( laid out 72hours before January 31st, of course.) If you are shielding a jam jar or such like is a suitable substitute. Thus supporting the work of the Additional Curates Society sees us looking forward to post-vaccination days and the work of fostering future vocations.
The Season, of course, begins on Ash Wednesday. There will obviously be a variant way of marking the day. At each Mass, without words, a small amount of ash will be sprinkled ( with a (small!) spoon on the crown of the head. The site on the body is where the usual cross is placed in the city of Rome itself, and actually the tipping / spooning far more scriptural.
Beginning Lent as always, brings the best of intentions: sustaining these for forty days surrounding six Sundays is the problem.
Walking the Stations of the Cross each week is another of S Francis’ gifts as following his devotion to the Passion and being appointed custodians of the Holy City the
Franciscan Order brought the devotion of the Via Dolorosa to Europe. This year only the Priest will walk the Stations, each Saturday (10.30), the congregation remaining in their socially distanced bubbles while turning to face the station: a short mediation for each week will be provided with the electronic pack for those of you who are worshipping at home.Another tradition to help sustain the fast and encourage growth in both knowledge and commitment is the Lent Group. Sadly this year Ange and I will not be dusting off the recipe books and spending Fridays stirring soup. There is an exciting Lent Course available on the Diocesan Website: called ‘Cracked Wide Open’ . It is described in these words:-
“This course invites reflection on what minimum requirements need to be
present for a diocese to participate in the mission of God. In the light of that
reflection it asks for prayer about how our unity with God and in the Body of Christ might grow and deepen that the world might believe (John 17:21)”
As well as on Ash Wednesday, there are two Masses on February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. While we cannot process with Candles the meaning of the feast remains the same as the reminder, again , of the humility of the incarnation and be of assistance to us as we prepare to grow in faith and witness during Lent.
Faith and witness are at the centre of Parish Life. The Wardens, Fr. Andrew and I, due to the sheer size of the Church, are pleased to have remained open and thank you for your co-operation in respect of social-distancing. The January Letter was of course written before the new strain had taken hold and full lock-down once again in place: we do sincerely hope that those of you shielding at home take comfort in the knowledge that we are worshipping in Church and that the material we ae circulating helps you feel united with us, for we certainly are thinking of you.
With my love and prayers,
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