This Wednesday, March 1st, 2017, we begin the season of Lent. Lent is a season of preparation for Easter. It is marked by prayer, fasting and other acts of self-denial, spiritual discipline and a focus on spiritual house-cleaning by individual Christians. The season of Lent lasts for 40 days and officially begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The Sundays are not counted as part of the 40 days because Sundays are always regarded as a mini celebration of Easter.

In the early church, candidates for baptism were prepared in the weeks before Easter so that the baptism could be performed at Easter. The prayers, fasting, devotional exercises and discipline of the candidates encouraged other Christians to engage in the same practices to prepare themselves for Easter. It became the practice of Christians in general to observe this period of preparation before Easter, and that practice has continued until this day.

Lent is a time meant to be in contrast to our regular mode of operation and so the characteristics of Lent make it non-festive and quite different from the routine.

  1. The colour for the season is purple, a penitential, solemn colour indicating the constant need of repentance.

  2. No flowers are used in the church.

  3. The Gloria in Excelsis, hymn of praise ("Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth, etc.") and Alleluias are omitted.

  4. The traditional practice is that weddings and parties (festive events) do not take place in Lent.

  5. Christians engage in extra acts of charity, almsgiving, and attend more worship services than usual. Persons fast and also give up something for the season (sweets, ice cream, a TV programme, cigarettes, etc.) some small things which will be enough of an inconvenience to remind us of our self-denial and self-sacrifice.
These outward signs are meant to be symbols only of the inner and devotional activity in each heart and life.

Here, at Christ Church Cathedral, I challenge every member to keep a holy Lent, observing it in its full devotional and spiritual house-cleaning potential. I lay the challenge to do the following:
  1. Attend your church every Sunday in Lent. If you are traveling, find an Anglican/Episcopal church near you. Look over the readings for the following Sunday, which are always printed in the bulletin, so that you will have the extra edge in worship. Look over the Evensong readings, too.

  2. Find tme for daily bible reading and prayer. Do it! It is important. Aim for 10-20 minutes, at least.

  3. On Sundays, commit yourself to coming to Evensong.

  4. Plan to attend an extra week-day service, i.e. a Mass or Stations of the Cross.

  5. Plan to take on some extra act of charity or almsgiving during the season. Join a ministry of the church.

  6. Plan to give up something for Lent. Your self-denial or sacrifice is a part of discipline.

  7. Focus on regular self-examination. Plan to deal constructively with faults, weakness and shortcomings with a view to becoming a better person.
Let us all endeavour to make the most of this Lenten season and positive changes in our spiritual lives. Let us use the word LENT as an acronym for:

            L - Living

            E - Even

            N - Nearer

            T - To God

Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes