Why keep Lent at all?
Lent, the 40 days leading to Easter, is traditionally a period when Christians are invited to take time to strengthen and deepen our relationship with God, through a blend of prayer, simple living, and study. John Chrysostom said “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great”. This is a particular challenge if we think that Lent is mostly about reading a Lent book or giving up a glass of wine at the end of a long day. The way we keep Lent should make a difference for others too – but ceaseless activism is not the key building our relationship with God either. It follows, then, that a good starting point would be to ask God to help you discern how best to use this time in which your relationship with God is your priority.
Lent is both private – for it focuses on the spring-cleaning of your soul – and corporate, for, as the Ash Wednesday liturgy reminds us, it is the season when together we learn to be God’s people once again. May we commend to you a Lenten programme that makes space for both dimensions? If as clergy we can help and support you through this holy season, please do speak to one of us.
As we look towards 29th March, and whatever that may bring, there will be prayer resources available in the Cathedral to enable us to focus on the choice to build walls or bridges. We’re also preparing to host the Knife Angel and will use this powerful piece to help shape our journey through Passiontide and beyond. More details soon.
This year’s national focus builds on last year’s Plastic Less Lent with 40 updated ideas about how we might do more to care for the planet. The “plastic-less” calendar will be available on the Community table shortly.
“We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behaviour… Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence … We have no such right … The resolve to live differently should affect our various contributions to shaping the culture and society in which we live”. Pope Francis
Read a book
This year the Archbishop’s Lent book is Mutharaj Swami’s ‘Reconciliation’, a series of daily Bible studies, described as “quite teacherly”, and “demanding serious application” but clearly a book that should engage all of us here in Coventry.
If you’d prefer something less academic and more reflective, Jane Williams’ ‘The Merciful Humility of God’ could be for you. 5 chapters pair stages in the gospel story with the lives of a later Christian figure, and there are suggestions to encourage a personal response from the reader.
The big Church of England resource this year is Steven Croft’s ‘Pilgrim Journeys’ – with booklets offering 40 days of reflection on the Beatitudes, together with suggestions on how to pray and a prompt to action, described as “the ideal companion for anyone seeking to grow in the Christian faith” – which is surely the goal of each of us as we look towards Lent.
Cathedral Lent Course
Those who enjoyed Paula Gooder’s preaching at Candlemas will be happy to hear that she’s the author of this year’s Lent course, ‘Broken’. Here’s what she says about it : “The TV series ‘Broken’, written by Jimmy McGovern and starring Sean Bean is set in an estate parish somewhere in the UK. The church used at the centre of the series is in Liverpool but the series never explicitly states that this is where the narrative is set. The series focuses on the life and ministry Father Michael Kerrigan, a Roman Catholic priest who, despite past trauma and anxiety about his own inadequacies, attempts to bring the light of Christ into the lives of the people amongst whom he ministers. The series portrays real life at its most gritty and unvarnished, and in doing so raises many questions along the way about how to live faithfully when life is very hard.”
As we consider the impact of Brexit Britain, it seems more timely than ever. A group will meet in St Michael’s House on Tuesday evenings (beginning on Shrove Tuesday, 5th March) from 7 pm to 9 pm, first watching an episode on DVD then exploring the material Paula has provided.
In addition to our regular pattern of Sunday and weekday services, the Liturgy of Ash Wednesday will take place at 12 noon and at 7.30 pm on 6th March.
Saturday 16th March 12.15 pm – a Poetry Mass, created and celebrated by The Revd Dr Paul Edmondson of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, part of our ‘Borders and Belonging’ day, with a 2 pm workshop led by Pàdraig Ó Tuama of the Corrymeela Community, who will preach at the Cathedral Eucharist on Sunday 17th.
During Holy Week, Holy Communion will be celebrated at 12 noon on Monday 15th to Wednesday 17th March, and Compline with an Address by The Reverend Kate Pearson, Chaplain at the University of Warwick, at 7.30 pm each evening.
The Cathedral will host the Chrism Eucharist at 10.30 am on Maundy Thursday, with the Liturgy of Maundy Thursday being held at 7.30 pm, followed by the Maundy Watch in the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane.
The Liturgy of Good Friday will be at 9 am on April 19th, Stations of the Cross in the Ruins at 2 pm, and a performance of Bach’s St John Passion at 6 pm.
Easter Sunday’s Dawn Eucharist will take place at 5.30 am, with the Cathedral Eucharist at 10.30 and Festal Evensong at 4 pm.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession)
Though we know that God forgives us whenever we turn to him in penitence and faith, it is sometimes helpful to engage with a more intensive process of self-examination and to hear God’s forgiveness spoken aloud, knowing own specific failures have been forgiven. In a place where reconciliation is integral to all that we do, it makes sense to enjoy the full riches of the sacraments that Christ has entrusted to his Church. There will be a priest ready to hear confessions in the Millennium Chapel from 12.00 noon till 1 pm on Shrove Tuesday or on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, from 6 pm to 7 pm in the Millennium Chapel. At other times, do make an appointment with Canon Kathryn (02476 521230).