Anglican Catholic Church

Lenten Discipline

Father Howard Marsh, Priest in Charge of the Mission of Our Lady & St Edward, Bolton, Lancashire is encouraging both his congregation and that of St Alban the Martyr (not to mention the rest of the Diocese) to follow in the footsteps of Christ with a commitment to Pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. A custom well known in Catholic Churches.

Preaching in Salford, Fr Marsh said:

" I hope we have started to think seriously about some Lenten exercise that we might engage in during these forty days leading to Easter. Easter can have little meaning if we totally ignore the Lenten season.

Now if we've decided to give up something or to deny ourselves some little pleasure as we contemplate the sufferings of our Lord on his journey Calvary, that's good, and I wish you well in that endeavour. If you haven't yet quite decided what to do, I made a suggestion some weeks ago about devoting some time each Friday to reading at home the Stations of the Cross and I said I would prepare a booklet with the Stations clearly printed for you to take home and use. I mention Friday because it is usually on Friday that parishes organise Stations of the Cross for their congregations to meet in Church and go through the fourteen episodes of the via dolorosa-the way of the Cross.

Friday is the obvious day when you think about it - the day Our Lord died. I wish I could take you all and the people from Bolton to Malta for Good Friday and witness there the Good Friday Procession in Umri. I was there in 1980 and I witnessed something so real and sad and powerful and moving and yet so beautiful that the effects of the occasion are with me still -and Easter Sunday Mass in S. John's Cathedral in Valetta was more meaningful than any Easter Day Mass had ever been before. The person playing Our Lord was not beautifully dressed or made up-he was ragged and dirty and his legs were bleeding and sweat and blood ran down his face as he struggled to carry the heavy wooden cross. This was no made up figure. He had fallen and scraped his skin on the tarmac. You could feel the sympathy of the crowds as we watched this wretched figure struggle on. The gasps and cries were something I had never seen or heard before. On the opposite side of the road unknown to us was the man playing Simon of Cyrene who ran out to Jesus as he lay on the road and picked up the Cross and carried it for a short distance. He was so obviously distressed that his tears and cries had every onlooker in the same state. The whole six hours was a drama - yes of course it was - but made to be as it surely must have been - an agonising journey for a man soon to be crucified. I would love to be in Malta on this Good Friday but since I was last there I seem to have been involved in Easter commitments which have prevented me from going back at that time of year. I have been to Malta since but never at Easter. Perhaps one day.

One thing I think is for sure none of us will be there, in Malta, this Good Friday - but we can make the journey with Our Lord each Friday as we go through the Stations of the Cross and I hope you will make that commitment today and join the congregation from Bolton and myself in that spiritual journey starting this coming Friday and read through 3 stations each week and the prayer on page 61 and the word of the hymn- When I survey the wondrous Cross.

On Good Friday itself we shall be going though all fourteen here in Salford and by then you will be familiar with them and perhaps be able to get much more understanding from each one. Let's have a look at the booklet and see how we should start. One thing is for sure - the Easter celebration will be a celebration with so much more meaning if we have engaged in some Lenten exercise. It certainly won't be just another Sunday."