A prayer for Lent:
Into the dark world a snowdrop comes: a blessing of hope and peace carrying within it a green heart: symbol of God’s renewing love.
Come to inhabit our darkness, Lord Christ,
for dark and light are alike to you.
May nature’s white candles of hope remind us of your birth and lighten our journey through Lent and beyond. Amen.
(Kate McIlhagga, Iona)
Snowdrops: ‘in the raw wind of the new world.’
February begins with the Feast of Candlemas which commemorates the presentation of the infant Christ in the Temple, 40 days after his birth.
In the Middle Ages, it was the day when everyone in the parish brought their candles to be blessed by the priest, so they could ward off wickedness and all that sought to diminish human life. Imagine a typically dark, cold day in February inside a gloomy parish church and the spectacular brightness of hundreds of candles burning before the statue of the Virgin Mary. It must literally have been the brightest moment of the whole year.
And accompanying this symbolic act, nature provides the Candlemas bells, or the snowdrops (Galanthus) as we now call them, planted around churches and graveyards with this Feast in mind. They are a symbol of hope: the small, delicate looking flowers are yet strong enough to break through the hard, cold earth. They tell us that winter is coming to a close and nature is springing back to life. Their purity and beauty against the dead tones of the winter earth are a sign of resurrection life.
I find the poem ‘Snowdrops’ by the American poet, Louise Glück, resonates very much with me at the moment. It is about recovery and she imagines the flower’s fear and joy at survival as it persists, despite the potential bleakness of the earth, eventually to wake to a new world. There is something here about the nature of Lent for me, which has often been called ‘the Springtime of the Church,’ and an encouragement to look for signs of hope and renewal all around and within ourselves.
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
Our church is open each day for private prayer and public worship. As we turn towards the season of Lent, that great preparation for Easter, we pray that God will renew our hope and strength in His love revealed in Jesus Christ, ‘in the raw wind of the new world’ in which we find ourselves.
Lent is a time for re-thinking and re-imagining, inspired by the life of Jesus Christ. In the portion of the Sermon on the Mount read on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, Jesus talks to His disciples about prayer, fasting (‘giving up for God’) and charitable giving.
It is a good thing when individual Christians take this message to heart and dedicate themselves in Lent to prayer, reading the Scriptures, ‘giving things up’ for God and supporting those in need. Such things need re-thinking and re-imagining each year: I often meet people who give up the same thing, and do the same thing, during Lent year after year. Why not try something different: a Lent course, a weekday Mass, study the Scriptures with a commentary, give up something different and costly and give the money you would have spent to the church or to charity.
It is good to come closer to God in all these ways as we prepare for Easter. Please do prayerfully reflect on how you will keep a good Lent. Here are some suggestions which may help.
- Dates for the Diary
Ash Wednesday 17th February (the beginning of Lent)
12 Noon – Mass and sprinkling with ashes (also live-streamed)
Due to COVID restrictions, ash will not be imprinted on the forehead this year but sprinkled over the head of the worshipper.
Our next Family Mass will be on Mothering Sunday (14th March) at 9.30am
There will be also an 11am Mass on that day.
Palm Sunday 28th March until Easter Sunday 4th April.
During the first part of the week, our devotions will be led by Fr Neil Evans and the Triduum by Fr Thomas Couper.
Further details will be released nearer the time.
- Lent Study Courses
‘A River Through the Desert’ (Online)
This video course comes from St George’s College in Jerusalem and is led by the Dean. It will focus on the physical features of the Holy Land as we explore our faith through Lent (desert, water, mountain, sea, road, garden). It will be posted each week on our website.
A Lenten Reflection through our Stained-Glass Windows
A daily meditation will be offered on themes represented in our stained -glass windows along with a Scripture passage and prayer. This can be found on the website or in hard copy at the back of church.
21 days Meditation Challenge, beginning on 22nd February
An online course led by Fr Fabrizio and Fr Luigi Gioia
For details and booking please contact:
- Lent Study Book
Our recommended study book for Lent is:
Thy Will Be Done by Stephen Cherry
The author is the Dean of King’s College, Cambridge, and Director of Studies in Theology. At a time of change, uncertainty and widespread anxiety, we need to discover again the freshness of our most familiar spiritual resources. Dr Cherry invites us to immerse ourselves in the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer.
We ask you to order your own copy from bookstores or, if you would prefer, the parish office can order a copy for you. £9.99
- Daily Prayer and Worship
Do join us for the Daily Office and for Daily Mass
Morning Prayer 9.30am Mass 10am
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at St Michael’s
Tuesday and Friday at St Peter’s
May God bless you as you keep a holy Lent and bring you to the joy of Easter.
Yours in Christ,
A prayer for the keeping of a holy Lent
Lord, bless me this Lent.
Lord, let me fast most truly and profitably,
By feeding in prayer on thy Spirit:
Reveal me to myself
In the light of thy holiness.
Suffer me never to think
That I have knowledge enough to need no teaching,
Wisdom enough to need no correction,
Talents enough to need no grace,
Goodness enough to need no progress,
Humility enough to need no repentance,
Devotion enough to need no quickening
Strength sufficient without thy Spirit;
Lest, standing still, I fall back for evermore.
Shew me the desires that should be disciplined,
And sloths to be slain.
Shew me the omissions to be made up
And the habits to be mended.
And behind these, weaken, humble and annihilate in me
Self-will, self-righteousness, self-satisfaction,
Self-sufficiency, self-assertion, vainglory.
May my whole effort be to return to thee;
O make it serious and sincere
Persevering and fruitful in result,
By the help of thy Holy Spirit
And to thy glory,
My Lord and my God. (Eric Milner-White)