Monday, 22 January 2018

Preparing for Lent,
Holy Week and Easter

Preparing bread for Communion in Lent in Saint Mary’s Rectory, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Mary’s Rectory, Askeaton, Co Limerick

A day with clergy and readers in the Diocese of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert

20 November 2017

11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Opening Prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and 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 receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Opening Reading

The crucifixion scene on the reredos in Christ Church, Leomansley, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Introduction:

Lent this year begins on Ash Wednesday, 14 February. Good Friday is on 30 March 2018, and Easter Day is Sunday 1 April 2018.

Opening Prayer

I sometimes think that the misrepresentation and misinterpretation of Lent has, in turn, deprived many of its true meaning and significance.

The Orthodox theologian Aaron Taylor wrote in the Guardian some years ago [2010] of how he hoped that the Lenten fast ‘must never become a source of pride on the one hand, or something oppressive on the other. It is a measuring stick for our individual practice … [it] is primarily about obedience, and thus humility. But it also creates a sense of need and sobriety. It teaches us to seek our consolation in things of the spirit rather than of the flesh.’

He pointed out that fasting ‘is merely a physical accompaniment to the real heart and joy of Lent: the prayer and worship that are intensified during this season …’ and he referred to the ‘joy-making mourning’ recommended by an early writer, Saint John Klimakos, in The Ladder of Divine Ascent, to the ‘bright sadness’ of Lent.

At Lent, we should remind ourselves that we have all fallen short, so that we are not the people we should be. We all too easily focus on ourselves. But true Lenten fasting allows us to experience a sense of freedom as we relinquish our self-centredness and can produce joy in our hearts – just what we pray for in the Collect of Ash Wednesday.

And Aaron Taylor added: ‘If we do not to some extent attain to this joy-through-mourning, we have entirely missed the point of Lent.’

He concluded his ‘Face to Faith’ column in the Guardian by saying: ‘As long as there is evil in the world, we can be sure that some of it still lies hidden in our hearts. And as long as we are able to shed tears over our condition, there remains hope that we will one day see the glorious day of resurrection.’

The Lectionary

Ash Wednesday, 14 February 2018: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58: 1-12; Psalm 51: 1-17; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

First Sunday in Lent, 18 February 2018: Genesis 9: 8-17; Psalm 25: 1-10; I Peter 3: 18-22; Mark 1: 9-15.

Second Sunday in Lent, 25 February 2018: Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16; Psalm 22: 23-31; Romans 4: 13-25; Mark 8: 31-38 or Mark 9: 2-9.

Note: The second, optional Gospel reading is used when Option B has been taken on the Sunday before Lent. As this is an account of the Transfiguration, it is not used when the Sunday before Lent has been observed as Transfiguration Sunday.

Third Sunday in Lent, 4 March 2018: Exodus 20: 1-17; Psalm 19; I Corinthians 1: 18-25; John 2: 13-22.

Fourth Sunday in Lent, 11 March 2018: Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 107: 1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2: 1-10; John 3: 14-21.

or:

Mothering Sunday: Exodus 2: 1-10 or I Samuel 1: 20-28; Psalm 34: 11-20 or Psalm 127: 1-4; II Corinthians 1: 3-7 or Colossians 3: 12-17; Luke 2: 33-35 or John 19: 25-27.

Fifth Sunday in Lent, 18 March 2018 (Passiontide begins): Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Psalm 51: 1-12 or Psalm 119: 9-16; Hebrews 5: 5-10; John 12: 20-33.

Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday, 25 March 2018:

Liturgy of the Palms: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29; Mark 11: 1-11 or John 12: 12-16.

Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; Mark 14: 1 to 15: 47 or Mark 15: 1-39 (40-47).

Holy Week:

Monday in Holy Week, 26 March 2018: Isaiah 42: 1-9; Psalm 36: 5-11; Hebrews 9: 11-15; John 12: 1-11.

Tuesday in Holy Week, 27 March 2018: Isaiah 49: 1-7; Psalm 71: 1-14; I Corinthians 1: 18-31; John 12: 20-36.

Wednesday in Holy Week, 28 March 2018: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 70; Hebrews 12: 1-3; John 13: 21-32.

Maundy Thursday, 29 March 2018: Exodus 12: 1-4 (5-10), 11-14; Psalm 116: 1, 10-17; I Corinthians 11: 23-26; John 13: 1-17, 31b-35.

Good Friday, 30 March 2018: Isaiah 52: 13 to 53: 12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10: 16-25 or Hebrews 4: 14-16; 5: 7-9; John 18: 1 to 19: 42. In the evening: John 19: 38-42 or Colossians 1: 18-23.

Holy Saturday, 31 March 2018: Job 14: 1-14 or Lamentations 3: 1-9, 19-24; Psalm 31: 1-4, 15-16; I Peter 4: 1-8; Matthew 27: 57-66 or John 19:38-42.

Easter:

Easter Vigil, 31 March 2018:

Old Testament Readings and Psalms:

Genesis 1: 1 to 2:4a; Response: Psalm 136: 1-9, 23-26;
Genesis 7: 1-5, 11-18; 8: 6-18; 9: 8-13; Response: Psalm 46;
Genesis 22: 1-18; Response: Psalm 16;
Exodus 14: 10-31; 15: 20-21 and Exodus 15: 1b-13, 17-18;
Isaiah 55: 1-11; Canticle 23: Song of Isaiah (Isaiah 12: 2-6);
Baruch 3: 9-15, 32 to 4: 4 or Proverbs 8: 1-8, 19-21, 9: 4b-6; Response: Psalm 19;
Ezekiel 36: 24-28; Response: Psalm 42 and 43;
Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Response: Psalm 143;
Zephaniah 3: 14-20; Response: Psalm 98.

New Testament Reading and Psalm:

Romans 6: 3-11; Response: Psalm 114.

Gospel: Mark 16: 1-8.

Easter Day, Resurrection of the Lord, 1 April 2018: Acts 10: 34-43 or Isaiah 25: 6-9; Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24 or the Easter Anthems (Canticle 5/6); I Corinthians 15: 1-11 or Acts 10: 34-43; John 20: 1-18 or Mark 16: 1-8.

Note: When the Old Testament selection is chosen, the Acts reading is used as the second reading at Holy Communion.

Liturgical Colours:

The Liturgical Colour for Lent in Violet.

17 March, Saint Patrick: White;

19 March, Saint Joseph: White.

Palm Sunday: Red or Violet.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Holy Week: Red or Violet.

Maundy Thursday: Red or Violet, but White at the Eucharist.

Good Friday and Saturday: there is no provision for a liturgical colour, and there is no celebration of Holy Communion.

A window ledge in the chapel in Dr Miley’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Ash Wednesday

Ideas for Ash Wednesday include a parish quiet day, away day or retreat.

The ‘Service for Ash Wednesday, the Beginning of Lent’ in the Book of Common Prayer (pp 338-343), is the only service in the book which is to be used on a specific day in the Christian Year.

It dates back to the Commination Service in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which was altered in the Church of Ireland in 1926 with the Penitential Service.

The present service is derived from one approved by the House of Bishops in 1990, which drew on earlier services and on material in the Church of England book, Lent, Holy Week, Easter (1996).

Bishop Harold Miller points out in The Desire of Our Soul that ‘one of the quirky things about this service, in the context of the wider church throughout the world, is that it is an Ash Wednesday service without ashes! That is faintly ridiculous …’

He goes on to point out that ‘in parts of the church, over recent years, the use of ashes has proven to be a highly effective symbol both of our mortality and of our penitence, with words such as:

You are dust, and to dust you will return.
Turn from your sins and follow Christ.

A rubric allows for local customs to be observed, which Bishop Miller points out ‘could include, for example, the imposition of ashes’.

The traditional Ash Wednesday invitation or exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer begins:

‘Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

‘At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church's fellowship from which they had been separated through sin. In course of time the Church came to recognize that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

‘I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Lord to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.’

Silence may be kept.

Then the priest says:

Let us pray for grace to keep Lent faithfully.

Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and 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 receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect may be said after the Collect of the Day until Easter Eve.

Post Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life:
Give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Last Supper … a fading work on Quonian’s Lane in Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Holy Week

A valuable, recent resource book is Week of All Weeks by Bishop Harold Miller, a prayer book for Holy Week and Easter (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2015).

Maundy Thursday:

The liturgical colour changes on this day from the Violet of Lent or the Red of Passiontide to White, and the Eucharist or Holy Communion is to be ‘celebrated in every cathedral and in each parish church or in a church within a parochial union or group of parishes.’

It is traditional in the dioceses too to have a celebration of the Chrism Eucharist in a cathedral or church in the diocese, when the bishops, priest, deacons and readers renew their vows. Last year in this united diocese, the Chrism Eucharist was celebrated in Saint Mary’s Church, Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Christ washing the disciples’ feet … a fresco in Saint John’s Monastery, Tolleshunt Knights (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Other possible resources for Maundy Thursday include foot-washing, which was introduced to Castletown Church, Kilcornan (Pallaskenry) last year. There are full resources for this in Bishop Miller’s Week of All Weeks.

Stations of the Cross in the Franciscan graveyard in Gormanston, Co Meath (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Good Friday:

There is no provision for a liturgical colour, and there is no celebration of Holy Communion on Good Friday or on the Saturday.

You may never even contemplate going as far as some of the Good Friday processions I have seen in Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus. But planning a Procession of the Cross, or ecumenical Stations of the Cross, on the streets in a parish can be a powerful public witness.

Other creative options include a service based on the Seven Last Words (see Bishop Miller’s Week of All Weeks, pp 51-57), and a service with Tenebrae (see Bishop Miller’s Week of All Weeks, pp 58-61).

The Seven Last Words traditionally are:

1, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing

2, Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise

3, Here is you son … here is your mother

4, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

5, I am thirsty

6, It is finished

7, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

Each passage here has a link to a reflection from a service in All Saints’ Church, Grangegorman, Dublin, on Good Friday 2015.

The Easter Vigil

Preparing for the Easter Vigil at Castletown Church, Kilcornan, Co Limerick, in 2017

The celebration of Easter may begin after sundown with the Easter Vigil or the Midnight Eucharist on what is liturgically Easter Sunday, although it is still Saturday evening in calendar.

Traditionally, the Easter Vigil consists of four parts:

● The Service of Light

● The Liturgy of the Word

● The Liturgy of Baptism, which may include the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation for new members of the Church and the renewal of Baptismal Promises by the rest of the congregation

● The Eucharist

The Liturgy begins after sundown as the crowd gathers inside the unlit church, in the darkness, often in a side chapel of the church building, but preferably outside the church. A new fire, kindled and blessed by the priest, symbolises the light of salvation and hope that God brought into the world through the Resurrection of Christ, dispelling the darkness of sin and death.

The Paschal Candle, symbolising the Light of Christ, is lit from this fire. This tall candle is placed on the altar, and on its side five grains of incense are embedded, representing the five wounds of Christ and the burial spices with which his body was anointed. When these are fixed in it and the candle is lit, it is placed on the Gospel side of the altar and remains there until Ascension Day.

This Paschal candle will be used throughout the season of Easter, remaining in the sanctuary of the Church or near the lectern. Throughout the coming year at baptisms and funerals, it reminds all that that Christ is ‘light and life.’

All baptised people present – those who have received the Light of Christ – are given candles that are lit from the Paschal candle. As this symbolic Light of Christ spreads throughout those gathered, the darkness diminishes and dies out.

A deacon or a priest carries the Paschal Candle at the head of the entrance procession and, at three points, stops and chants the proclamation ‘Light of Christ’ or ‘Christ our Light,’ to which the people respond: ‘Thanks be to God.’

When the procession ends, the deacon or a cantor chants the Exultet, or Easter Proclamation, said to have been written by Saint Ambrose of Milan. The church is now lit only by the people’s candles and the Paschal candle, and the people take their seats for the Liturgy of the Word.

The Liturgy of the Word consists of between two and seven readings from the Old Testament. The account of the Exodus is given particular attention as it is the Old Testament antetype of Christian salvation.

Each reading is followed by a psalm and a prayer relating what has been read in the Old Testament to the Mystery of Christ.

After these readings, the Gloria is sung, and during an outburst of musical jubilation the people’s candles are extinguished, the church lights are turned on, and the bells rung. The altar frontals, the reredos, the lectern hangings, the processional banners, the statues and the paintings, which were stripped or covered during Holy Week or at the end of the Maundy Thursday Eucharist, are now ceremonially replaced and unveiled, and flowers are placed on the altar.

A reading from the Epistle to the Romans is proclaimed, and the Alleluia is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent. The Gospel of the Resurrection then follows, along with a homily.

After the Liturgy of the Word, the water of the baptismal font is blessed, and any catechumens or candidates for full communion are initiated. After these celebrations, all present renew their baptismal vows and are sprinkled with baptismal water. The general intercessions follow.

The Easter Vigil then concludes with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is the first Eucharist of Easter Day. During the Eucharist, the newly baptised receive Holy Communion for the first time, and, according to the rubrics, the Eucharist should finish before dawn.

A poster seen in the front window of a house on Beacon Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Collects, Canticles and other Liturgical resources:

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and 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 receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect may be said after the Collect of the day until Easter Eve.

Collects and Post-Communion Prayers are provided for each day in Holy Week (see pp 264-271), except Good Friday, when there is a Collect but no Post-Communion Prayer (see p 270).

The Book of Common Prayer recommends the Commandments should be read at the Penitence during Lent.

This canticle Gloria may be omitted in Lent.

Traditionally in Anglicanism, the doxology or Gloria at the end of Canticles and Psalms is also omitted during Lent.

Penitential Kyries:

In the wilderness we find your grace:
you love us with an everlasting love.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

There is none but you to uphold our cause;
our sin cries out and our guilt is great.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed;
Restore us and we shall know your joy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Introduction to the Peace:

Being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5: 1, 2)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who was in every way tempted as we are yet did not sin;
by whose grace we are able to overcome all our temptations:

Blessing:

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,
to deny yourselves,
and to take up your cross and follow him:

Passiontide and Holy Week:

Penitential Kyries:

Lord God,
you sent your Son to reconcile us to yourself and to one another.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
you heal the wounds of sin and division.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Holy Spirit,
through you we put to death the sins of the body – and live.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Introduction to the Peace:

Now in union with Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood; for he is our peace. (Ephesians 2: 17)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
who, for the redemption of the world,
humbled himself to death on the cross;
that, being lifted up from the earth,
he might draw all people to himself:

Blessing:

Christ draw you to himself
and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith,
a firm support for hope,
and the assurance of sins forgiven:

Processing the Crucified Christ though the streets of La Carihuela, near Torremolinos in Spain (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Hymns for Lent

Three sections in the Hymnal are designed for use during Lent and at Easter:

1, 205-214: Christ’s Life and Ministry, including Lent.
2, 215-249: Christ’s Suffering and Cross, including Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Good Friday.
3, Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension.

Lenten Disciplines:

In the Church of Ireland, each day in Lent is marked as ‘Day of Discipline and Self-Denial.’ Note that this does not include any of the Sundays in Lent.

Ash Wednesday, the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, and Easter Eve are ‘Days of Special Observance.’

The Fifth Sunday in Lent marks the beginning of Passiontide.

The Book of Common Prayer says: ‘No celebration of a festival takes place during Holy Week.’

This is difficult in the few years when Saint Patrick’s Day. This year, it means the Feast of the Annunciation is transferred from 25 March to Monday 9 April. This may create problems for some plans for the Mothers’ Union in some parishes, and for some parishes named Saint Mary’s that mark this day.

Bible studies:

The Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland (BACI) is launching its Bible studies for Lent 2018 in Church House, Dublin tomorrow [Tuesday 23 January 2018].

These Lenten Studies for 2018 have been designed to foster a Biblical approach to the Five Marks of Mission, originally formulated in the Anglican Communion in 1984 and much emphasised in the Church of Ireland in recent years:

Titled ‘As the Father sent me, so I send you’ (John 20: 21), the five studies focus in turn on the Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform, and Treasure aspects of mission, moving from the teaching and pastoral care required after initial conversion to the wider social and environmental challenges of the Gospel.

The five writers are the Revd Jack Kinkead (Wicklow), the Revd Lesley Robinson (Clontarf), Philip McKinley (DCU), Canon Paul Houston (Castleknock) and Mr David Ritchie of the Representative Church Body.

In the introduction, the editor of Studies, Canon Ginnie Kennerley emphasises the importance of approaching the studies in a spirit of sincere discipleship: ‘Mission is being sent out, not by any human authority, but by the Lord himself. We are to go in his peace, and we are not to go until animated by the Holy Spirit.’

The study pack is being launched by Archbishop Michael Jackson of Dublin. Copies will be available at the launch at a 10% discount in bundles of 10 copies. The retail price per copy is £2.25 or €2.50, obtainable from the larger cathedral bookshops or by post from the Book Well in Belfast or from the treasurer of the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland, Barbara Bergin in Dublin, berginba@gmail.com .

USPG has produced a Lent Study Course, ‘All Things Are Possible’

USPG Lent Study Course 2018: All Things Are Possible

USPG, the United Society Partners in the Gospel, is one of the oldest Anglican mission agencies. These united dioceses are in partnership with USPG through the Mission Sunday Appeal.

USPG has produced a Lent Study Course for 2018 that looks at how Anglican Churches around the world are supporting global development.

The course, entitled All Things Are Possible, can be downloaded HERE. It focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which replaced the Millennium Development Goals.

USPG and its global church partners are giving full support to the SDGs. In particular, USPG has been inspired by the growing understanding among governments, the UN and other actors that faith-based organisations have a key role to play in global development.

The UN Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark says: ‘Faith-based organisations ... have an important role to play in reminding us to focus on what really matters to us as human beings in search of well-being.’

With this in mind, this five-week study course for Lent from USPG attempts to make clear the links between our faith and global development. USPG suggests that it is only in God that there is any real hope for lasting change.

Download a PDF of the booklet: All Things Are Possible (PDF) HERE

Order free copies of the booklet for you or your church HERE

The same pages have a link that allows you to download The five Ps of the SDGs (PowerPoint) and The five Ps of the SDGs (PDF) sermon (can be used with the PowerPoint).

The UN has replaced the MDGs with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For simplicity, these have been categorised for simplicity under ‘Five Ps’, namely Prosperity, People, Planet, Peace and Partnership.

This course aims to introduce these five Ps and to explore how the perspective of faith can help us – both as a church and as a world community – to meet these goals.

The contents of the course are:

Study 1: Prosper: What does it mean to prosper?

Study 2: People: What does it mean to fulfil our potential?

Study 3: Planet: What does it mean to care for the environment?

Study 4: Peace: What does it mean to love our neighbour?

Study 5: Partnership: What does it mean to live in partnership with God?

The USPG Lent Appeal this year is entitled ‘Let My People Go’

In addition, the USPG Lent Appeal this year is entitled ‘Let My People Go.’

This year’s Lent Appeal is an opportunity to join USPG and the Church in India to help set communities free from debt slavery.

India’s Dalit and tribal peoples have been subject to a yoke of oppression for generations. Making USPG a focus for Lent 2018 gives a parish an opportunity to help set them free.

Whole communities have become debt slaves, working in appalling conditions for no reward. Often their children are forced to leave education in order to work off their family’s crippling debt. And the cycle of oppression continues. Through the programme called ‘Let My People Go,’ USPG is working in partnership with the Church of North India to loose these bonds of injustice and let the oppressed go free.

The Church of North India is predominately made up of Dalit people. Excluded from society at large, they have found a home in a church that promotes a gospel which is good news to the poor. Putting that gospel into action, ‘Let My People Go’ tackles specific issues of deprivation in income inequalities, education and health faced by Dalit and tribal communities, while addressing the core issues of caste, gender and poverty.

The resources to support the USPG Lent appeal are available to download:

• Lent Appeal 2018 Sermon PowerPoint
• Lent Appeal sermon notes (to accompany sermon PowerPoint) HERE
• Lent Appeal 2018 poster (PDF) HERE
• Lent Appeal poster with space to write details of your fundraising event (PDF) HERE
• Order A5 Lent Appeal flyers and A4 posters HERE
• USPG prayer meditation (film) HERE
• Lent Appeal 2018 Children’s Activity Sheet HERE
• Lent Appeal 2018 All Age Worship Sermon Script HERE
• Lent Appeal 2018 Primary Assembly Script HERE
• Lent Appeal 2018 Assembly/All Age PowerPoint, for use with both All Age and Primary Assembly scripts, is also available.

Penitents in traditional roles in the Good Friday procession in Barcelona (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Poems for Lent

The Anglican prayer blog, Lent & Beyond, https://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/ gets many dozens of visitors looking for Lent poems. In advance of Lent 2015, the site upgraded its liturgical-year-themed poetry resources, and to begin this, a complete index was compiled of my Lent 2012 series of daily Lenten poems, describing it as ‘one of the best-ever Lenten blog series … It was that series that really stirred up a fresh interest … in liturgically-themed poetry.’

This is the list of Lenten poems in that series:

Poems for Lent (1): ‘Ash Wednesday’, TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (2): ‘Lent,’ George Herbert

Poems for Lent (3): ‘Indifference,’ by GA Studdert Kennedy

Poems for Lent (4): ‘Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (5): ‘Marked by Ashes,’ by Walter Brueggemann

Poems for Lent (6): ‘The Retreat,’ by Henry Vaughan

Poems for Lent (7): ‘Lent,’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (8): ‘Amen,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (9): ‘Sunday Morning, King’s Cambridge,’ by John Betjeman

Poems for Lent (10): ‘The Absence,’ by RS Thomas

Poems for Lent (11): ‘Untitled (The Fallen Angels left all there),’ by Patrick Kavanagh

Poems for Lent (12): ‘Forest Song,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (13): ‘Evensong,’ by CS Lewis

Poems for Lent (14): ‘In the Street,’ by Winifred M Letts

Poems for Lent (15): ‘Desert Places,’ by Robert Frost

Poems for Lent (16): ‘Lenten Communion,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poem for Lent (17): ‘Autobiography,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (18): ‘Christians and Pagans,’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Poems for Lent (19): ‘Confession’ (‘O What a cunning guest’), by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (20): ‘Christ’s Bloody Sweat,’ by Robert Southwell

Poems for Lent (21): ‘Holy Cross,’ by Sir Shane Leslie

Poems for Lent (22): ‘St Patrick’s Day with Neil,’ by Thomas McCarthy

Poem for Lent (23): ‘Sunday Morning,’ by Louis MacNeice

Poems for Lent (24): ‘Man of the House,’ by Katherine Tynan

Poems for Lent (25): ‘The Snowdrop Monument (in Lichfield Cathedral)’ by Jean Ingelow

Poems for Lent (26): ‘Mid-Lent,’ by Christina Rossetti

Poems for Lent (27): ‘I saw the Sun at Midnight,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (28): ‘Barnfloor and Winepress,’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Poems for Lent (29): ‘Here It Is,’ by Leonard Cohen

Poems for Lent (30): ‘Fifth Sunday In Lent,’ by John Keble

Poems for Lent (31): ‘Annunciation,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (32): ‘What the Thunder said,’ from ‘The Waste Land’ by TS Eliot

Poems for Lent (33): ‘Affliction,’ by George Herbert

Poems for Lent (34): ‘Julian at the Mysteries,’ by CP Cavafy

Poems for Lent (35): ‘It is a thing most wonderful,’ by William Walsham How

Poems for Lent (36): ‘Batter my heart, three person’d God,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (37): ‘The Donkey,’ by GK Chesterton

Poems for Lent (38): ‘Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa,’ by Oscar Wilde

Poems for Lent (39): ‘All in an April Evening,’ by Katharine Tynan

Poems for Lent (40): ‘I see His Blood Upon the Rose,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

Poems for Lent (41): ‘The Last Supper,’ by Ranier Maria Rilke

Poems for Lent (42): ‘Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward,’ by John Donne

Poems for Lent (43): ‘Sepulchre,’ by George Herbert

Some additional resources:

Lent as a holy time of introspection, penance and preparation can be further enriched this year with Sacred Space for Lent 2018, a daily prayer experience from the Irish Jesuits and Sacred Space, the internationally known online prayer guide.

This resource, published last Thursday (18 January 2018), is designed for use throughout Lent. Each day includes a Scripture reading and points of reflection, as well as a weekly topic enhanced by six steps of prayer and meditation.

Although the Sacred Space website has expanded into many languages and now has a global outreach, the reflections continue to be written by Irish Jesuits.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Study Book for 2018 is Say it to God by Professor Luigi Gioia (London: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2018). The author is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, Research Associate of the Von Hügel Institute (Cambridge), and currently Visiting Scholar of the Divinity Faculty at Cambridge University.

This book provides a welcome encouragement to all who feel the need to freshen their practice of prayer. For Luigi Gioia, prayer is not about methods or techniques, but trusting that God is truly interested in everything that happens to us and wants to hear about it.

The book leads the reader into the theological aspects of prayer and how it relates to Christ, to the Holy Spirit and to the Church. This is done without using complex theological concepts but simply through scriptural quotations. Chapters are kept brief intentionally to make the book suitable for daily reading over the Lenten period.

With a foreword by the Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, Say it to God demonstrates that the everyday, even the most mundane of tasks and situations, can be applied in deepening our practice of prayer.

Lent, Holy Week, Easter: Services and Prayers (London: Church House Publishing; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; London: SPCK, 1986 edition)

Harold Miller, Week of All Weeks, A prayer book for Holy Week and Easter Day (Dublin: Church of Ireland Publishing, 2015).

Time to Pray (London: Church House Publishing, 2006) – includes Daily Prayer for Lent, Passiontide and Easter.

Closing Prayer

Next:

Monday 12 February 2018: Interfaith Day in Limerick City.

Monday 12 March 2018: Maintaining and sustaining a life of prayer.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Director of Education and Training in the Dioceses of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert. These notes were prepared for a training day with Clergy and Readers in in Saint Mary’s Rectory, Askeaton, Co Limerick, on Monday 22 January 2018.

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