Anglican Catholic Church

A Lenten Reflection

Bishop Damien posted the following on his Facebook page on Ash Wednesday.

"+ Remember O man thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.

As the seasons of the Church year unfold, sometimes it is easy -and for some of us far too easy - to take for granted or miss completely the importance of cultivating the virtues and receiving the Grace which God grants us through the process. This is especially true, I find, during Lent.

Sometimes however God's grace suddenly and powerfully manifests itself in the the midst of the distractions, preoccupations and the complexity of our human nature.

Today, in common with Christians the world over, I began the solemn preparation for the coming Great Feast of Easter by attending Mass and receiving the mark, on my forehead, of the Cross of Christ marked in blessed Ash.

I can honestly say that this Ash Wednesday was blessed and God's Grace tangibly felt, in ways I hadn't expected.

Ash Wednesday is filled with symbolism and religious tradition that may seem outdated or overly sombre to some. Some modern philosophers, claim that such traditions are humiliating and stifle our creativity and happiness. However, for the greater part, the alternatives offered in their place fail to address a fundamental awareness which most of us share, that of each of us having our own set of temptations and inner struggles.
Lent allows us to recognise their reality and to humble ourselves in all of our weakness before God.

Today my awareness of God's Grace, came to me powerfully because I found myself doing something I haven't done for many, many years. I acted as an Altar Server at Holy Mass.

Fr Raymond Thompson celebrated Mass in Canterbury and, as we were without an Altar Server, I stepped in and served - not just as an extra pair of hands - but in cassock and cotta (I even had to borrow a plan cotta from Roy Hipkiss) and serving properly. I am so glad I did. Laying aside my episcopal and sacerdotal status, albeit only for a short while, enabled me to experience what Lent is all about. Humility - and through this, the opportunity to approach praying the Mass in a different way, to spend extra time in prayer and in deep reflection to recognise my own weaknesses and focus on Christ?s Cross and Passion and glorious Resurrection.

If you are a bishop or priest (and especially if you have been for a long time) and you haven't 'served' at Mass for a while - I heartily recommend it!

+ Remember O man thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."