Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Preparing for Lent 2020
and preparing Bible studies,
workshop for clergy and readers

‘The Fight Between Carnival and Lent,’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559)

Patrick Comerford

Preparing for Lent 2020
and preparing Bible studies,
workshop for clergy and readers

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Saint Mary’s Rectory,
Co Limerick

Opening Prayers:

The Collect of the Day:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen


Mark 1: 14-20 (NRSVA), the Gospel reading in the Church of Ireland Directory for Holy Communion today):

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake – for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’ … an icon from Mount Sinai based on the work of Saint John Klimakos … Saint John Klimakos refers in ‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’ to the ‘bright sadness’ of Lent

Introduction, Preparing for Lent 2020

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 ten 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 Liturgical colour in Lent is Violet (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Part 1: Liturgical resources for Lent 2020:

The Lectionary:

Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020: 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, 1 March 2020: Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12-19; Matthew 4: 1-11.

Second Sunday in Lent, 8 March 2020: Genesis 12: 1-4a; Psalm 121; Romans 4: 1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17 or Matthew 17: 1-9.

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, 15 March 2020: Exodus 17: 1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1-11; John 4: 5-42.

[Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2020: Tobit 13: 1b-7 or Deuteronomy 32: 1-9; Psalm 145: 1-13; II Corinthians 4: 1-12; John 4: 31-38.]

Fourth Sunday in Lent, 22 March 2020 (Laetare Sunday): I Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41.


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.

[Wednesday 25 March 2020, The Annunciation of our Lord: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Psalm 40: 5-10; Hebrews 10: 4-10; Luke 1: 26-38.]

Fifth Sunday in Lent, 29 March 2020 (Passiontide begins): Ezekiel 37: 1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8: 6-11; John 11: 1-45.

Sixth Sunday in Lent, Palm Sunday, 5 April 2020:

Liturgy of the Palms:
Matthew 21: 1-11; Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29.

Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; Matthew 26: 14-27 or Matthew 27: 11-54.

Holy Week:

Monday in Holy Week, 6 April 2020: Isaiah 42: 1-9; Psalm 36: 5-11; Hebrews 9: 11-15; John 12: 1-11.

Tuesday in Holy Week, 7 April 2020: Isaiah 49: 1-7; Psalm 71: 1-14; I Corinthians 1: 18-31; John 12: 20-36.

Wednesday in Holy Week, 8 April 2020: Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 70; Hebrews 12: 1-3; John 13: 21-32.

Maundy Thursday, 9 April 2020: 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, 10 April 2020: 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, 11 April 2020: 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.

Other Liturgical resources for Lent 2020:

Liturgical Colours:

The Liturgical Colour for Lent in Violet.

17 March, Saint Patrick: White.

19 March, Saint Joseph: White.

22 March, ‘Laetare Sunday’: Violet, but there is a traditional option of using Rose (Pink).

25 March, The Annunciation: White.

5 April, 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.


How do we find a common thread in these readings to provide continuity in Lent?

Could we organise a weekly Bible study around these common threads?

Could we provide continuity, including reflections, sermons, hymns and intercessions, parish study groups throughout Lent this year?

Would we use these Gospel readings as topics for weekly Bible studies in Lent this year?

‘Still Life With Bible,’ Vincent van Gogh

Part 2: Organising a Bible Study:

1, Choose your theme with care: I once decided to lead a series of Bible studies on the Book of Revelation. I had very good reasons to do so, but there were too many chapters, and eventually it petered out. Nor did I consult with other members of the group about what they wanted or needed.

If you chose one book of the Bible, you – and everyone else too – may get bored before half-way through, apart from the fact that the five or six weeks of Lent does not give the opportunity to get through your chosen book.

Think of a theme or a topic: the Prophets, Women in the Bible, Heroes and Saints, and the Parables are themes that have worked for me in the past, and allow a variety of leadership and in-put.

2, Fix a venue, day and time: go ahead even if only one person turns up. On the other hand, know when to quit.

3, Prepare. Read the passage carefully and thoughtfully yourself well in advance of the group meeting; do not leave it until the day you are meeting. Have Bibles ready for those who forget them, check whether you need to provide pens and paper. Do not plan a PowerPoint presentation unless you through the whole process yourself long enough beforehand.

4, Open with prayer: keep it short, keep it snappy, make it simple, but remind people that this is not just another social gathering. On the other hand, resist the temptation to allow this to replace the Sunday intercessions or the weekly prayer list: focus it on one topic you expect to be the focus of discussion.

5, Try to rotate the leadership: you don’t have to provide leadership all the time; every parish has more than enough people with skills of teaching and leading, and it may help and encourage new skills in the parish.

6, Encourage everyone to take part: allow discussion, but be firm and gentle at one and the same time. At times it will go off track; this may be important, but it may also frustrate those who want to learn more.

7, Encourage different opinions and questions: diversity is an integral part of Anglican identity, and needs to be encouraged and affirmed in parish life too. People like to share their experiences and their opinions, and should be encouraged to ask questions.

8, Do not pretend to have all the answers: we don’t need to know it all, and we should not pretend to know it all.

9, Finish on time: make sure people know that their commitment is respected, and that they can get home on time; make sure they know what next week’s topic, passage or theme is.

10, Make sure tea/coffee/refreshments are available at the end of the evening. Parish life should be fun, and in Lent too.

USPG’s Lenten study course, ‘Living with a World of Difference,’ looks forward to the Lambeth Conference later this year

Part 3: Four examples of Lenten Study Resources:

Four examples of Lenten studies and themes may help organising a Lenten study in parishes or provide Lenten resources for Lent 2020: 1, USPG; 2, BACI; 3, Christian Aid, 4, Diocese of Meath and Kildare.

1, USPG: Living with a World of Difference – Lent 2020:

The Anglican mission agency United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG) has produced a five-session study Lenten study course, ‘Living with a World of Difference,’ celebrating diversity within the Anglican Communion ahead of the Lambeth Conference later this year.

The Anglican Communion is the world’s third largest Christian community, a worldwide family of tens of millions of Christians, from more than 165 countries around the globe. Within the Communion there is an enormous breadth of cultural diversity. Hundreds of languages are spoken. Anglicans and Episcopalians live in modern cities and rural heartlands. And yet, in spite of this wealth of difference and diversity, the Communion shares many aspects of its life and faith in Jesus Christ.

USPG offers these guidelines which are helpful in using this resource for five sessions during five weeks in Lent this year:

1. Commit to attend all five sessions. The more you are able to attend, the more you will benefit and the more it will maintain the continuity of the group. Give yourself permission to refuse any other engagements or invitations that might arise at your regular study time.

2. Begin each study with a short time of silence to help centre the group and recall God’s presence, and then pray together the prayer at the beginning of each session.

3. Commit to sharing honestly and to listening without judgement or trying to ‘fix’ someone else’s life for them. Seek to create a safe atmosphere in which people feel able to share openly. Remember that none of us has all the answers; our aim is to be real, authentic and whole – not perfect!

4. Acknowledge that everyone’s experience of life and faith is unique and valuable. Seek to accept one another just as we truly are, just as God accepts each one of us.

5. Give space for everyone to speak, although no-one needs to feel obliged to speak. If you are someone who tends to share a lot, remember to leave space for others who find it harder to share.

6. Read the material in advance and spend time allowing the content to sink in – not necessarily needing to find the answers. Note that some of the articles are printed in the original language of the contributor as well as in English translation. This in itself reflects something of the diversity of language within the Anglican Communion. If a member of your group speaks that language, please use both languages in the study.

7. Remember that religious and theological words can mean different things to different people. Share your perspective and allow others to hold different perspectives.

8. Close each session in prayer. Pray the Lord’s Prayer aloud, inviting each person to choose their preferred language. For some groups this will make for something of a cacophony of language (cf Acts 2); celebrate this diversity, it is reflected across the Anglican Communion.

All prayers used in the study course are from the USPG book ‘Praying with the World Church’, and may also be found at www.uspg.org.uk/pray

The BACI Lent Study 2020 focuses on the climate crisis

2, BACI Lent Study 2020, ‘Caring for the Garden of the Earth’

The BACI Lent Study 2020 – ‘Caring for the Garden of the Earth’ – is produced by the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland and focuses on the climate crisis.

This study is being launched this day week [Tuesday 21 January 2020]. Given the crisis of climate change facing the world, BACI has invited the noted scripture scholar Margaret Daly-Denton to present a series of Bible Studies on the theme of ‘Caring for Creation.’

Margaret Daly-Denton introduces the reader to creation-centred scriptures that would have been familiar to Christ and that she sees as underlying Saint John’s Gospel. In this Gospel, she points out: ‘We find the story of Jesus doing the work of God in the world and inviting his disciples to share in that work.’

Her book, John: An Earth Bible Commentary (Bloomsbury T&T Clark 2017), will prove helpful anyone who wishes to go into further detail.

Multiple copies of the BACI Bible studies will be available at a special price at next week’s launch in Church of Ireland House, Dublin, at lunchtime on Tuesday 21 January.

Further copies can be bought at €3.00 or £2.50 from BACI treasurer Barbara Bergin, but these will incur a postage charge. It is expected that the Bible Studies will also be available for download from the BACI website (bibliahibernica.wordpress.com) eventually.

BACI exists to serve as a ‘bridge’ between clerical and lay, academic and faith-based approaches to the Bible within the Church of Ireland and in conversation with ecumenical partners.

Climate Justice is Christian Aid’s theme for Lent 2020

3, Christian Aid: Climate Justice

Christian Aid Ireland also has Climate Justice as its theme for Lent 2020.

Christian Aid is encouraging its supporters, both individuals and churches, to give, act and pray in response.

The world’s poorest people have long been living with the impacts of climate breakdown; families are torn apart by disaster, crops are ruined by drought and people’s homes and livelihoods are lost to rising seas. For many of our friends and neighbours around the world, further inaction is a matter of life and death.

The climate crisis has become a headline issue and many Christians and churches are wrestling with how they can meaningfully engage as Christians. This year, 2020, is a moment of urgent opportunity; and the church’s response is vital to be a prophetic voice on this issue.

Christian Aid sees prayer as integral to this, and is calling on the Church to pray for Climate Justice. ‘The Lenten Journey’ reflections give one way to pause and reflect on justice issues. These reflections, drawing on the daily lectionary readings, are available by text or email each morning in Lent from Christian Aid.

Christian Aid is also encouraging a year of non-stop prayer focussed on this issue, leading up to the Climate Summit, COP Glasgow, in November 2020.

Christian Aid is hoping that individuals sign up to pray alone (climate prayer points will be provided on registering); that churches will sign up to run a block of climate prayer sessions or a climate themed prayer space; and also suggests that churches could integrate a climate prayer station into activities already happening.

Alongside prayer, Christian Aid is encouraging churches and individuals to give donations that could help provide practical solutions for communities adapting to the worst of the climate crisis in places like Kenya and Bangladesh, is encouraging supporters in the Republic of Ireland to take action with Stop Climate Chaos and Eco-Congregations Ireland, and is encouraging supporters in Northern Ireland to speak out for justice by signing a petition to the British government calling for a New Deal for Climate Justice.

Christian Aid Ireland is the international development agency for seven sponsoring churches, including the Church of Ireland.

For the Christian Aid Ireland Lent Appeal 2020 Focus story, find out more at caid.ie/lent or Helen Newell, Senior Church and Community Officer at Christian Aid Ireland.

The Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission also provide an opportunity for Lenten discussion groups or sermons

4, The Five Marks of Mission

In the Diocese of Meath and Kildare, Bishop Pat Storey is encouraging parishes to focus on the Five Marks of Mission, which express the Anglican Communion’s common commitment to, and understanding of, God’s holistic and integral mission.

These five marks are:

1, To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
2, To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
3, To respond to human need by loving service
4,To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
5, To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

These Five Marks of Mission could provide a focus for the first Five Sundays of Lent, affirming different aspects of discipleship, summarised by the ‘5 Marks Challenge’ of the Come&C programme in the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough:

Tell: to Proclaim God’s Kingdom
Teach: to Teach, Baptise and Nurture
Tend: to Respond to Human Need
Transform: to Transform Unjust Structures
Treasure: To Safeguard Creation

The Five Marks of Mission … this CartoonChurch.com cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times

Part 4: Open Discussion

Sunday themed sermons?

Mid-week study groups?

Single theme?

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

Part 5: Additional Resources for Lent:

Ash Wednesday

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


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 once seen on Quonian’s Lane in Lichfield but now missing (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.

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 I use in Castletown Church, Kilcornan (Pallaskenry). There are full resources for this in Bishop Miller’s Week of All Weeks.

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.

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

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)


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:


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)


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:


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 those few years when Saint Patrick’s Day falls in Holy Week. When the Feast of the Annunciation is transferred from 25 March it creates problems for some plans for the Mothers’ Union in some parishes, and for some parishes named Saint Mary’s that mark this day.

‘Saying Yes to Life’ … the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Study Book for 2020

Some additional resources:

Lent as a holy time of introspection, penance and preparation can be further enriched this year with Sacred Space for Lent 2020, a daily prayer experience from the Irish Jesuits and Sacred Space, the internationally known online prayer guide.

This resource, published two months ago [15 November 2019], 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 2020, Say Yes to Life (SPCK, 2019), by Professor Ruth Valerio (London: SPCK, 2019), was published last month (19 December 2019). The author is Global Advocacy and Influencing Director at Tearfund, an environmentalist, theologian and social activist. Dr Valerio is Canon Theologian at Rochester Cathedral and her home church is part of the 24/7 Prayer Network.

Archbishop Justin Welby says in his Foreword: ‘Ruth Valerio’s book is perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect, pray and be challenged together.’

Saying Yes to Life lifts the focus from natural, everyday concerns to issues having an impact on millions of lives around the world. As people made in the image of God, we are entrusted to look after what he has created: to share in God’s joy and ingenuity in making a difference for good. Ruth Valerio imaginatively draws on the Days of Creation (Genesis 1) as she relates themes of light, water, land, the seasons, other creatures, humankind, Sabbath rest and resurrection hope to matters of environmental, ethical and social concern.

Foundational to Saying Yes to Life is what it means to be human and, in particular, to be a follower of Christ. Voices from around the world are heard throughout, and each chapter ends with discussion questions and a prayer to aid action and contemplation.

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

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

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