Ash Wednesday 26th February
“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel“.Lent is the season in which the whole Church enters into forty days of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
As we start this year’s Lenten journey, perhaps the first challenge we face is will we focus on what is familiar or will we be open to new pathways and growth? As we receive the blessed ash on our foreheads, will we welcome this new stage in our journey back to God who formed us out of the dust of the earth? Will we embrace the call to repentance and stronger belief in the Gospel? All the devotions of Lent powerfully remind us that Jesus accompanies us on this journey, encouraging us with his word and by his humble example; He strengthens us through the Eucharist and forgives and heals our sinfulness, the very thing that separates us from God and one another.
So as this Lent begins, Jesus invites us to follow him by giving up our selfish choices and taking up our cross every day. If we welcome and allow God to be the centre of our lives, the Holy Spirit will guide and strengthen us all.
Keeping a good Lent
The Church helps us on our journey to Easter by offering additional Lenten devotions all of which enable us to enter into the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. This booklet sets out the pattern of Lent we shall be keeping at St Michael’s this year. I look forward to seeing you as together we take up our cross and walk with the Lord to the joy of Easter.
Sunday Parish Mass
Each and every Sunday we gather as the Lord’s family at the central act of our life and worship, the Parish Mass. Our celebration of the Eucharist takes us deeper into God’s love for us, and our Communion with the Lord, and each other, strengthens us for the week ahead. If nothing else perhaps we can make a Lenten rule to attend every single Sunday throughout Lent to the Easter celebrations.
Stations of the Cross
Join us on Sunday evenings at 6:30pm for the Stations of the Cross. This powerful and demanding devotion enables us to understand the great cost of God’s love for us and helps us enter into the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death.
Remember – Fr Ian, Fr Andy and Fr Engin have been called by God to serve you and this community. If you would like to speak to them about matters spiritual or how best to keep a good Lent you only have to ask and they will be happy to help.
Daily – The Church is open for Morning Prayer which is offered each day at 9am and Evening prayer is kept at 4:45pm The Mass is celebrated throughout the week in the team the times of which are on the notice board or contained in this Lent booklet.
Tuesdays in Lent: Mass at 11am – St Michael at Bowes
Mass will be offered at St Michael’s at Bowes and is followed by a Lent Bible study to help us with our keeping and understanding of Lent.
Wednesdays in Lent: Mass at 12noon – St Michael’s Wood Green
The Church will be open for devotions from 9am in readiness for the Mass at Midday giving us the opportunity to pause from our busy lives and focus on the price of God’s love for us.
Thursdays in Lent: St Michael’s Wood Green 7pm – The Big Silence
“Silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God”. For our Lent Group this year we shall be taking a thought-provoking look at silence in modern culture, and with the help of a BBC documentary follow the lives of two men and three women as they embark on a week-long silent retreat designed to help them build some silence into their everyday busy lives.
Following their experiences we shall use the Lent Group to see if we too can build into our lives time and space to be silent with God. Our Lent group begins at 7pm finishing with prayers by 8:30pm.
Fridays mornings in Lent: Devotions around the Cross
Friday is the day of the cross. On this day at 8:30am we are invited to fast, which is itself a powerful discipline, and concentrate on the mystery of the cross.
This simple and moving service begins the Friday fast. We gather around the Cross to remember our Lord’s passion and death and in adoration we venerate the Cross before receiving God’s blessing.
Friday Evenings in Lent: Mass and breaking of the Fast – 5:30pm
We gather back at St Michael’s for Mass at 5:30pm to break our fast with Mass and followed by light refreshments.
Saturdays in Lent: Mass at 12noon
Saturday is a day of rest and preparation for Sunday. From 10am the Church is cleaned and made ready for Sunday. The Mass at 12noon is the best way to thank God for the week that has passed and place into his hands the coming week that begins on Sunday.
1st Sunday of Lent – 1st March
On the first Sunday of Lent we are encouraged to bring an Icon, a Cross, a rosary or any item of devotion. The aim is to have them blessed and rededicated with a view to placing them in a prominent place in our homes to aid us in our Lent devotions.
What more can I do?
Confessions – The Sacrament of Confession is a beautiful Sacrament and offers us the opportunity to put right the things we know are wrong in our lives. There is nothing more debilitating then being weighed done by guilt and shame, we see it in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son in the holy Gospel (Luke 15:11-32). We also see in that same story the great love of the Father as he welcomes his son home. The Sacrament of Confession or reconciliation assures us of that same welcome and forgiveness from God our Father. The priest by the authority granted to him through Ordination, is there to assist us in Confession, offering helpful advice and spiritual direction but above all to announce God’s forgiveness and blessing. Those who make Confession part of their way of life often speak about the joy and freedom it brings. If you would like to know more or would like to make your confession, please speak to the clergy who will happily help you.
Fasting – A traditional discipline for Lent is fasting. Jesus himself fasted before his public ministry and he expected his disciples to do the same. Fasting for some may mean missing a meal, for others it may mean missing out on morning coffee or afternoon tea, others may fast throughout the day. Our fasting teaches us humility and dependence on God. Friday is a traditional day for fasting in the Church and at St Michael’s it begins and ends with worship.
Act Charitably – Jesus reminds us that our love for him must be reflected in our love for others. Charitable giving is one way of sharing our gifts and God’s love with those whose needs are so much greater than ours. Throughout Lent at St Michael’s we support the work of Christian Aid as they work among some of the most vulnerable people in this country and throughout the world.
‘Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same – with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.” ― St Teresa
Holy Week Explained
Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and culminates in the morning hour of Easter Sunday. It’s also the final week of Lent, which is the 6-week period of reflection before Easter. Christians observe Holy Week as a sacred memory of the events leading up to the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Each day holds special meaning based on the actions of Jesus in his final hours.
Palm Sunday – Palm Sunday, which is often called Passion Sunday, is marked with a celebration of the day Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus entered the city, the people greeted him by waving palm branches and proclaiming him as their saviour. At that point, the people of Jerusalem weren’t aware that Jesus was going to be crucified or that they themselves would be the ones calling for his death.
At St Michael’s we begin this day together at 10:15am by gathering outside the Greek Orthodox Church with a service of the blessing of the palms, then we process to Church remembering Our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – These three days were fraught with conflict between Jesus and others. On Monday, Jesus entered the temple to discover that people were selling their goods in the house of God. He got angry and overturned their tables, driving them out of the temple. He reminded the people that the temple is a place for prayer; then Jesus and his disciples left Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Jesus was questioned by the Jewish leaders, who weren’t convinced that he was the messiah. Jesus told these leaders several parables in an effort to get them to believe that he was, indeed, the messiah. His efforts were unsuccessful. On Wednesday, Jesus continued preaching his message to the people while the elders, chief priests and scribes began to plan his death. It’s on this day that Judas, took a bribe to betray Jesus to those who wished to kill him.
Often called Holy Thursday, is the last day of freedom Jesus had before his arrest. Jesus ate the Last Supper with his followers, which is still celebrated in Christian churches as Holy Communion. Jesus washed the Apostles’ feet to demonstrate humility and love for others, reminding us of his new commandment to ‘love one another.’ After the meal, Jesus went to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he stayed late into the night with his closest followers.
At St Michael’s we enter deeply into the drama of this holy night, listening carefully to Our Lord’s teaching and using the foot washing ceremony as a focus for our prayer. Once we have received the precious Body and Blood of Christ, we witness the stripping of the Church using it as a reminder of the way Jesus is stripped before his trial; it is a moving occasion and leads us to adore the Lord. Once the Church is stripped we follow the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of repose, there we watch and wait in prayer with the Lord. The watch ends at midnight marking the time Jesus is arrested and taken away.
Jesus stood trial where he was whipped, beaten, spat upon and a crown of thorns was forced on his head as an ultimate insult. Jesus was then forced to carry his own cross up the hill of Calvary where he was nailed to it. After three hours of agony where Jesus spoke of forgiveness and love he breathed his last commending himself into the Father’s hands. He was removed from the cross, wrapped in cloths and hurriedly buried in a nearby tomb.
At St Michael’s we keep this holy day by entering into the Lord’s passion and death between the hours of 12noon – 3pm, his final hours. We keep the Good Friday Liturgy, at which we take part in the passion of Christ, we venerate his holy Cross and receive the PreSanctified gift of Communion. We then leave Church silently.
Holy Saturday – During the day on Holy Saturday, Jesus lay in his tomb and his followers mourned his death. A guard stood watch to make sure no one tried to steal the body. Traditionally this is a day of prayerful anticipation where we prepare the Church for the joy of the Resurrection.
Easter Vigil – After Sundown on Holy Saturday, our celebrations of the day of Resurrection begin. At St Michael’s we gather outside Church around the Easter Fire, a powerful reminder that Christ has burst through the darkness of death. We then light the Paschal Candle a further sign of Christ’s victory over death and we sing the Easter praises. We take part in our salvation history as it is dramatically read and then the first bells of Easter are sounded and we rejoice with alleluias for Christ is risen. This leads us into the renewal of our Baptismal promises and on into the Eucharist at which we meet the risen Lord in his precious Body and Blood.
On the first Easter morning, it was discovered that Jesus was no longer in the tomb and had risen from the dead, a day that not only changes the world but changes our lives, for we are redeemed, Christ has conquered death and opened for us the way to live with him eternally, alleluia!!!
At 10.30am we return to Church for the Parish Mass which is a joyful celebration of our Lord’s Victory, for Christ is risen Alleluia, He is risen indeed, Alleluia!!!
Prayers for use at Home during lent
Teach us, O God, so to use this season of Lent
that we may be drawn closer to our Lord,
and in fellowship with him may learn to
hate sin, to overcome temptation,
and grow in holiness,
that our lives may be strengthened for your service
and used for your glory.
We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.
By the prayers of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to pray.
By the gifts of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to give.
By the toils of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to work.
By the love of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to love.
By the cross of Jesus,
Lord, teach us how to live.
A Meal time Graces:
O Lord Jesus,
Bless our home and those we love
and bless this meal before us.
Give us strength to share all we can
with those who hunger and in need. Amen.
Father of us all,
This meal is a sign of Your love for us:
Bless us and bless our food,
And help us to give you glory each day
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen