The time has now come in the Church year for the solemn observance of the great central act of history, the redemption of the human race by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In the Traditional Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which is used in the liturgy. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance. The Alleluia and the Gloria are suppressed until Easter.
At the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed during Mass, after the homily. The blessed ashes are then "imposed" on the faithful as a sign of conversion, penance, fasting and human mortality. The ashes are blessed at least during the first Mass of the day, but they may also be imposed during all the Masses of the day, after the homily, and even outside the time of Mass to meet the needs of the faithful. The ashes are made from the palms used at the previous Palm Sunday ceremonies.
The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent.
From the very early times the commemoration of the approach of Christ's passion and death was observed by a period of self-denial. St. Athanasius in the year 339 enjoined upon the people of Alexandria the 40 days' fast he saw practiced in Rome and elsewhere, "to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days."
We, in S. Stephen’s will have lots of opportunities for deepening our devotion to Jesus during Lent.
Lent lunches every Friday. (More info in pew sheet)
Stations of the Cross every Sunday @ 6pm
Each Wednesday in Lent there is silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament from 6.30pm til 7.15pm. A wonderful opportunity to get closer to God. If you need tips or advice on how to use this period, have a word with Fr Andrew.
The Lent course this year, is on Wednesday evening beginning with Mass at 7.30pm
Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on all Fridays during Lent. This applies to all persons 14 and older. The law of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday applies to all from age 18 through to age 59. Many people see this as a time of solidarity with the poor, perhaps giving the cost of the meat to a charity.
We Anglicans are generally not good at keeping Lent. On the whole it passes us by. Many just cannot be bothered!
But it is the solemn duty of all who call themselves Christians to do all they can to ‘follow Jesus’ in this holy season.
Holy Week is NOT the time to go on holiday or for days out!
In particular, it is the duty of all to be present and to partake in the services on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter day.
Jesus said ‘Take up your Cross and follow me.’ Will you?