Lent is here!

Reprinted from my personal blog.

Here it is again–Happy Lent!
Lent helps us enter the deepest and most important mysteries of what it truly means to be human—spirit and flesh fused together. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent and remind us of our mortality. The ashes which are blessed and traced in the form of a cross on our forehead–in exactly the same way the cross is signed on us in our Baptisms–come from the palms of a previous Palm Sunday, also reminding us that the very praises of Hosanna which we sang turn to dust when we deny Our Lord through sin. Another meaning many find is that our praise is worth nothing in and of itself but ashes. Lent is a time of self denial. As Anglicans we need to understand three things about Lent: fasting, abstinence, and discipline.

Fasting is not refraining from all food. Fasting is eating no more than a light breakfast, one full meal (no dessert, of course), and one half meal.
Simply put, abstinence is abstaining from flesh meat. “Flesh meat” here does include chicken, by the way. In other words, Lent may not be the best of times to start the Atkins diet!
When and How?
Well, the Book of Common Prayer requires fasting with abstinence for all forty days of Lent and every Friday of the year outside Christmastide! (Surprised? see page li.) The modern Roman Catholic rule, on the other hand, is to fast and abstain only on Fridays during Lent, a light requirement indeed. A healthy balance between the two would be to fast the forty days and fast with abstinence on Fridays—or one might want to abstain the forty days and fast with abstinence on Fridays. But pick one and stick with it. A rule that changes with our appetites is merely appetite dressed up to look like a rule. Sundays, by the way, are not part of Lent: every Sunday, even purple ones, are feasts and never fasts. (See, there is good news!)
Over-fasting to the point of endangering your heath defeats the purpose of the spiritual exercise. The very young, the very old, and the infirm are customarily not expected to fast. When in doubt one should always consult one’s spiritual director or parish priest. If you don’t have a spiritual director, it’s rather like a coach for your spiritual life. Your parish priest should be able to hook you up with a good SD. Don’t rely on the old wives’ tale that “when you need a spiritual director, one will appear in your life.” That’s just an excuse to avoid getting a trainer when you should always have one.
We often hear about “giving something up” for Lent. Giving up something is not the sole extent of Lenten discipline, however. Our discipline ought to be a fine tuning of our individual Rules of Life, our personal prayer, corporate prayer, devotion, spiritual reading and study, and the corporal acts of mercy. That doesn’t mean that “giving up” is bad; on the contrary, we probably ought to give up much more than we do!
Skeptics and modernists love to talk about “taking something on” instead of giving up something. As I’ve said for years from the pulpit, that is the voice of the devil! He doesn’t want us to give up anything!
In reality, one ought to do both. Give up something and then fill the gap of giving up with prayer, studying, visiting the sick, giving to the poor, shopping for or driving a shut-in. Take something on for Christ this Lent. If you look you’ll find excellent ways to work on building up your spiritual muscles: Stations of the Cross, a small group Bible Study, adding an extra weekday Mass to your schedule, and so on.
The rules we set for ourselves for Lent should help make us better Christians. Lent should bring us closer to God, each other, and His creation. Let us all focus on the real work of the Church. On Ash Wednesday let us all vow to offer prayers, as well as to reach out to our community that we may become Christ to a hurting world. Our baptism made us members of his Body. We are his ears to listen to the dejected and hopeless; we are his voice which speaks words of kindness. It is time to take up our cross and “offer our selves, our souls and bodies to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice.” Let us journey through the cross to the light.

Weekly Newsletter: Lent I

Wednesday Lenten evensong and suppers

Wednesday evenings in Lent we’ll meet at 6pm to pray Evening Prayer together and then enjoy a light supper of bread and soup. A sign-up sheet will be available at coffee hour.

Prayer time

Come early to pray for the special prayer requests of the parish, for our growth in numbers and in holiness, for your own loved ones—for anything you like—even just time to listen to God.

In the Lady Chapel any time between 9:20 – 9:50 every Sunday morning.

The Collect(s) of the Day and Season

O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.  Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness.

Defend us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all dangers both of body and soul: and at the intercession of thy blessed and glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all thy Saints, grant us thy saving health and peace; that being defended from all adversities and all false doctrines, thy Church may serve thee in all freedom and quietness.  Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth God, world without end.  Amen.

The Old Testament Lesson                                 Isaiah 58.6-9a

In those days: [the Lord said to Isaiah,] “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.

The Psalm                                                                 Psalm 91.1-8

1 Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High, * shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my stronghold; * my God, in him will I trust.

3 For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter, * and from the noisome pestilence.

4 He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers; * his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, * nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6 For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, * nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.

7 A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; * but it shall not come nigh thee.

8 Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, * and see the reward of the ungodly.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, * as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle                                                 2 Corinthians 6.1-10

Brethren: Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

The Gospel                                                   St. Matthew 4.1-11

At that time: Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, `Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, `He will give his angels charge of you,’ and `On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! for it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him.  

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! This is the new website for Saint Luke’s Anglican Church in Colorado Springs.

Most wonderful St. Luke
you are animated by
the Heavenly Spirit of Love.
In faithfully detailing
the humanity of Jesus,
you also showed His Divinity
and His genuine compassion
for all human beings.

May the Holy Spirit,
instructor of the faithful,
help me to understand
Christ’s words
and faithfully apply them
in my life.