Lent at the Cathedral

Deepening Relationships

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus connected fasting with charitable giving and prayer. In the early Church, new Christians spent a lot of time preparing for their baptism at the Easter Vigil. The season of fasting called Lent became the final and most intense part of the preparation. Since Christians understand Jesus’ death and resurrection as an essential part of our reconciliation with God, Lent also became a time to seek reconciliation.

Many Christian practices have developed over the last 1600 years, but Lent has remained a season of holiness and humility. A time to respond to God’s Word and deepen our relationship with God through charitable giving, abstaining from worldly pleasures, earnestly seeking God through study and prayer, and accepting our need for forgiveness and reconciliation.

Below are ways that members of St. James Cathedral are encouraged to deepen their relationship with God, and with others around them, this holy season of Lent.

Growing in Prayer...


On Weekdays...
St. James offers weekday Eucharist service at 12:10 p.m. in the Cathedral, Monday through Friday. During the season of Lent, Director of Music, Stephen Buzard, and Associate Director of Music, David Boeckh, will offer short voluntaries on the organ at the beginning of the 12:10 p.m. Eucharists Tuesday through Friday, along with a mixture of hymns and Taize songs during the service. We hope you will take a break during your work day to worship with us during this holy season.

St. James continues to offer Zoom morning prayer at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. Either or both of these offer the opportunity to make a God-shaped space during the week, and I hope you might give renewed thought to how you might enhance your worship life in this way during this holy season.

On Wednesday evenings in Lent, we offer the simple service of Compline in St. Andrew's Chapel at 7:30 p.m. The ancient office of Compline derives its name from a Latin word meaning 'completion' (completorium). It is above all a service of quietness and reflection before rest at the end of the day. 

On Sundays...
St. James offers three services every Sunday: 8 a.m. Spoken Eucharist, 9 a.m. Family Eucharist, and 11 a.m. Choral Eucharist (also live-streamed). Choral Evensong will be offered on March 5 and April 2 at 4 p.m.

St. James live-streams the 11 a.m. Choral Eucharist every Sunday along with other special services. Live-stream on our streaming page.

All are invited to subscribe to St. James' Sermons of the Day sent out each morning, Monday-Friday. Hear each of the St. James clergy reflect on the day's Gospel Reading.


Choral Evensong
Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m.
The Cathedral Choir sings music of Henry Purcell, England's greatest native composer of the Baroque era. Evensong will highlight our newly-acquired Johnson Memorial Chamber Organ, the perfect instrument for accompanying this kind of music. An organ prelude precedes Evensong at 3:30 p.m., played on the chamber organ.

Bach: Clavier-Übung III
Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
Canon Director of Music Stephen Buzard plays Bach's monumental Clavier-Übung III in a special devotional concert to prepare for Holy Week. Clavier-Übung III is Bach's most significant, theologically profound, and technically challenging work for organ. Comprising the famous Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, twenty-one chorale preludes, and four duets, Clavier-Übung III explores the entire gamut of Baroque compositional styles. Each chorale is set in two styles, either for a large organ with pedals, for worship in the church, or for a small single-keyboard instrument, for worship in the home. This performance will highlight our newly-acquired Johnson Memorial Chamber Organ upon which Mr. Buzard will play the smaller-scale chorale settings.
Mr. Buzard writes: "Some people learned to knit, others had their sourdough starters. My pandemic project was Clavier-Übung III. The manuals-only chorale preludes were my daily practice and prayer during lockdown when I couldn't practice the organ at the Cathedral. Having studied this incredible music for a few years now, I am looking forward to my first performance presenting it in its entirety."

Growing in Faith...


One Book, One Diocese: Poverty, by America
Thursdays February 22, March 7, and 21 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom
This Lent, as part of the Diocese of Chicago's One Book, One Diocese event the people of St. Martin’s and St. James Cathedral will take part in the book study of Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond. In a three part Zoom study facilitated by clergy from both congregations, we will continue building relationship and joining in conversation around this important and challenging topic. You can order the book yourself or borrow/purchase a copy at St. James. We recommend starting your reading now!
The discussion group will meet from 6:30-7:30 p.m. via Zoom on three Thursday evenings: February 22, March 7, & March 21. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link for the first session.

The Forum: Faithful Living, Faithful Dying
Sundays in Lent at 10:10 a.m. in Kyle's Place
For the Sundays in Lent, the Forum is about reflecting on our mortality and the choices we make knowing that someday we will die. Our clergy and guest facilitators will lead both the theological and practical sides of facing death, including developing a theology of finite lives, how to plan a will, what a healthcare power of attorney is, how to thoughtfully plan a funeral, grief support groups, and more. Join us on Sundays from 10:10 a.m.-10:50 a.m. in Kyle's Place.

Wednesday Night Formation: Way of the Cross
Wednesdays in Lent at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall
For Wednesday night formation during the penitential season of Lent, we will be slowly, contemplatively walking the Way of the Cross. We are breaking down this ancient devotional practice to draw attention to and deepen our prayer around fourteen events in the last days of Christ’s life. Each week we’ll be highlighting three stations – including a narrative story, a prayer, and a pictorial representation – with a brief, creative, and open-ended reflection offered by a member of the St. James community. For more information or to sign up to lead one of these reflections, please contact Jacob Perkins.
All are invited to attend a brief Evensong at 5:45 p.m. led by the Cathedral Choristers, followed by community dinner at 6 p.m. in Kyle’s Place. Formation will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the evening concludes with Compline in St. Andrew's Chapel at 7:30 p.m.

Supporting Others...

Lenten Appeal

St. Martin's-Partners in Hope
Located in Chicago’s historic Austin neighborhood, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church was founded in 1878. One of the last Episcopal churches remaining on the west side of the city, St. Martin’s plays a vital role in responding to the needs of their immediate neighborhood as well as the broader context of Chicago’s West Side. St. Martin’s describe themselves as” a small congregation with a huge heart for all of God’s people.”
St. Martin’s is also a small congregation with an astonishing impact. They offer annual scholarships to high school students from the community and support migrant ministries in collaboration with nearby Grace, Oak Park, St. Michael’s, Berwyn and the Diocese of Chicago’s Sanctuary Task Force. They have engaged their neighbor, Nash Elementary School, in collaboration with BUILD, forming Peace Circles with middle schoolers to help curtail violence. St. Martin’s is teaming up with Episcopal agencies St. Leonard’s House and Grace House to revitalize their relationship in supporting ex-offenders and returning citizens. In 2024, St. Martin’s will expand their direct impact by initiating a feeding program that will provide welcome and sustenance for their neighbors experiencing homelessness. They will also serve as a new satellite site for the Cathedral’s Summer in the City program, an enrichment camp for middle schoolers from across Chicago.
The Rev. Canon Christopher Griffin, the Cathedral’s Canon for Community Partnerships, serves also as Vicar (priest in charge) at St. Martin’s, and has become a relational anchor leading the two communities into deeper partnership, collaborative outreach, and social justice ministries. The Cathedral’s partnership with St. Martin’s opens for St. James a pathway into direct service with some of those in our city whose need is the greatest. Our 2024 Lenten Appeal will support direct outreach and our growing partnership with St. Martin’s. Please give generously to strengthen these ministries and offer a sign of solidarity and a sense of hope in challenging times!
Donate HERE!