The season of Lent is a penitential one and includes the only two designated fast days in our calendar, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Of course, when we gather on Sundays it is never a fast day. Sundays are always feast days recalling our Lord’s resurrection. They are days “in Lent” but they are not days “of Lent.”
Our Lenten worship takes on a more somber, reflective, and penitential tone. Still quite beautiful in its own way, it invites us to look deeply, honestly, at our relationship with God, with other people, with all that is around us, and with ourselves. The worship will reflect the penitential nature of the season – penitential meaning to turn around, to change direction and go the other way.
We will be using Rite I, or as the Prayer Book sometimes references, the traditional language service. It is not the common fare for Sunday worship here. We are doing this because the words are not so familiar to our ear; certainly not in the way that our “every Sunday” contemporary (again a Prayer Book term) language services are. The language of Rite I, particularly the Eucharistic Prayer we will use, puts us in mind of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, and calls us to be honest about our own sinfulness as seek to change our direction for Easter and beyond. We hope it will also tweak our ears to hear words we routinely say when we worship in ways that shake us from routine. Worship of God should always be extraordinary and certainly regular, but never routine!
On the First Sunday in Lent we will begin with the Great Litany. It will be chanted in procession and set the tone consistent with Ash Wednesday’s invitation to the observance of a holy Lent. On the following Sundays we begin with the Lenten Prose at our 10:30 service, also in procession. It is a beautiful set of sung pleadings with a congregational response. Then we move into the seasonally appropriate Penitential Order.
We look forward to sharing the journey of this holy season with you at worship and at any of the other activities and offerings of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
Whether this nudges you out of your worshiping “comfort zone” or settles you into it, we pray this worship will serve as part of that which moves you ever closer to the Holy Spirit’s path for you in your journey.