Dear Cathedral Family,
This has been quite a week of dramatic transition here in downtown Mobile, from the loud and rowdy crowds of carnival revelers to the quiet beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Our young Sunday School members spent the season after the Epiphany learning about the long and deep connections between Mardi Gras and Lent, and this Sunday they will, literally, bury their “alleluias” in the garden to await the resurrection of Easter morning.
Even the early Christians celebrated carni/val, literally “farewell to meat,” with a celebration that prepared people, at least psychologically, for the dietary restrictions to come. Candidates for baptism were prepared during Lent for Easter baptism, and members of the community shared the fast with them in solidarity and to reaffirm their own faith.
Although we have retained much of the tradition of Lent as a time of preparation for Easter, the nature of Lenten fasting has changed over time. In fact, it can be easy for contemporary Christians to use Lent as a time for self-improvement, to lose weight, get in shape, or be more productive. It is important to ground our Lenten discipline in the prayer book exhortation for Ash Wednesday: "I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
Self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, reading God’s Word: these are the essential components of Lenten practice, no matter what we “fast” from. As the days lengthen (the base word for lent) and spring emerges, I hope and pray that each of us keeps a holy Lent that will make us ready in hearts and minds, souls and bodies, to receive and rejoice in the resurrection life of Easter.
In this email and on our website, you will find many resources for your Lenten journey, some of them online and some in-person. Whatever you discern your discipline to be, I hope that regular Sunday worship in the gathered Body will be the foundation of this holy Lent.