Invitation to a Holy Lent

January 15, 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

An invitation to a Holy Lent

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is February 10, so I am writing to encourage you to plan how you might get the most out of this wonderful season that is a profound gift from God to God's church. We have activities and events planned that I hope will be of great interest as you take a personal journey through this time of reflection.

"Shrove Sunday" on February 7

Before Lent begins, we have the opportunity to party one last time on.... Shrove Sunday! We're moving the traditional Tuesday event to our coffee hours on Sunday, February 7, with a New Orleans Mardi Gras theme.

Photo by Kevin Nance

Ash Wednesday on February 10

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. We will have three celebrations of the Eucharist, each with the imposition of ashes - 7:30 a.m. in the chapel, 12 p.m. in the cathedral, and again at 6:30 p.m. in the cathedral. At the 6:30 p.m. service, the Cathedral Choir will sing the haunting and evocative setting of Psalm 51, the Miserere, by Allegri.
Worship a little more...

Did you know that each weekday we celebrate the Eucharist in St. Andrew's Chapel? These are simple, brief celebrations at 12:10 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., when the service also includes prayers and anointing for healing. Why not make it part of your Lenten commitment and journey to find time for an extra service during the week, and join us at one of these services?

Prayer and Study

For the five weeks of Lent, I invite you join us in reading a spiritual classic about prayer called simply How to Pray by Bishop John Pritchard, one of England's most acclaimed and beloved spiritual guides and writers, who recently retired as Bishop of Oxford. The book is written in lucid and simple language, makes no judgments of our spiritual journeying, and offers a myriad of helpful suggestions about approaching and growing in prayer. And so that this isn't just a solitary discipline, I invite you to join others and study together on Sundays or Wednesdays during Lent.

Study "How to Pray" together on Sundays and Wednesdays in Kyle's Place Gallery

Each week in Lent (until Holy Week) we offer two opportunities to read and experience How to Pray together: at Sunday Dean's Forums at 10 a.m., starting February 14, and at Wednesday Dean's Forums at 6:15 p.m., starting February 17. On Wednesday evenings we offer a simple supper of bread and soup. Please RSVP to Alan Taylor if you think you will be able to join us for the Sunday or the Wednesday course.

Meet Bishop John Pritchard in Person on February 6

To get us off to a good start to Lent, I am excited and delighted to announce that Bishop John Pritchard, author of "How to Pray" will be visiting Chicago the weekend before Lent. He will be guest preacher at the morning services on Sunday, February 7. In addition, he will lead the Dean's Forum that morning to offer a 45-minute talk entitled "Being a Praying Christian."

However, if you have the time, and would like the chance to experience something a little more sustained, Bishop Pritchard has also agreed to offer a two-hour "School for Prayer" on Saturday, February 6, from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. With coffee in our hands, Bishop John will help us to have a more 'in depth' experience of some approaches to prayer that come out of the depth of his many years grappling with his own spiritual life, and teaching others as a priest and bishop. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience some profound but approachable spiritual teaching from a revered leader in the Anglican Communion, and I hope you will be able to take advantage of it. Please RSVP to Alan Taylor if you can join us.

Sell you possessions and give alms (Luke 12:33)

Lent is traditionally a time when Christians exercise self-discipline about lifestyle and expenditures, and is this a particularly appropriate time to put aside money to support charities and institutions which help build God's kingdom in the world around us. The Cathedral Chapter joins me in inviting you to support us in raising money this lent for the work of Refugee One - a Chicago charity doing vital work with refugees. You can read extensively about the charity on its website, and I am hoping that a member of its executive staff will speak to us at the services on one of the early Sundays of Lent. If each member of St. James were able to put aside even $1 each of the days of Lent, if we gathered it all together, we would be able to give well over $10,000 to aid the refugees on our doorstep.

So, dear friends in Christ, I urge you to be intentional about Lent this year. For when we dig deeper into God and into ourselves in Lent, we will find great truth in one Christian's words that Easter in disguise.

With my prayers and warmest wishes

The Very Rev. Dominic Barrington
Dean of the Cathedral