ASH WEDNESDAY Mass and Ashing 9.00 am at St Jude's United Service at Golders Green 7.00 pm Celebrant: The Revd Alan Walker Preacher: The Revd Rex Morton
originally have followed Epiphany, just as Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness followed immediately on his baptism, but it soon became firmly
attached to Easter, as the principal occasion for baptism and for the
reconciliation of those who had been excluded from the Church’s fellowship for
apostasy or serious faults. This history explains the characteristic notes of
Lent – self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and preparation for
Easter, to which almsgiving has traditionally been added.
Now is the healing time decreed
for sins of heart and word and deed, when we in humble fear record
the wrong that we have done the Lord.
(Latin, before 12th century)
candidates for baptism were instructed in Christian faith, and as penitents prepared themselves, through fasting and penance, to be readmitted
to communion, the whole Christian community was invited to join them in the
process of study and repentance, the extension of which over forty days would
remind them of the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, being tested
an ancient sign of penitence; from the middle ages it became the custom to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the cross. The calculation of the forty days has varied considerably in Christian
history. It is now usual in the West to count them continuously to the end of
Holy Week (not including Sundays), so beginning Lent on the sixth Wednesday
before Easter, Ash Wednesday. Liturgical dress is the simplest possible.
Churches are kept bare of flowers and decoration. Gloria in excelsis is not
used. The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare or Refreshment Sunday) was allowed as
a day of relief from the rigour of Lent, and the Feast of the Annunciation
almost always falls in Lent; these breaks from austerity are the background to
the modern observance of Mothering Sunday on the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
Week approaches, the atmosphere of the season darkens; the readings begin to
anticipate the story of Christ’s suffering and death, and the reading of the
Passion Narrative gave to the Fifth Sunday its name of Passion Sunday.