VOLUME 3, NUMBER 12, FEBRUARY 12, 2012
ALLELUIAS, MARDI GRAS, LENT AND NEW VESTMENTS
On Tuesday the Church observes Mardi Gras. "Fat Tuesday" is the day before Ash Wednesday when rich, fatty foods (like the eggs, milk, and sugar, used in Pancakes for instance) are consumed the last time before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins.
This day is also called Shrove Tuesday. Shrove is the past tense of the word shrive, which means to hear a confession, pronounce an absolution, and assign a penance. In the Anglo-Saxon "Ecclesiastical Institutes" translated from Theodulphus by Abbot Aelfric (circa 1000 A.D.), we read "In the week immediately before Lent, everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance]."
The Reconciliation of a Penitent (Confession) is a Sacrament offered in the Episcopal Church (see page 446ff in The Book of Common Prayer). I take advantage of this Sacrament and am also always available by appointment to hear confessions. This time of year is an especially appropriate time to take advantage of this Sacrament.
This Wednesday is the First Day of Lent (commonly called Ash Wednesday). In the Western Liturgical tradition, from this day through the Great Vigil of Easter the Church suppresses Alleluias from the public prayer and worship of the Church.
Alleluia is a particularly meaningful word in the liturgy of the Church (and of Israel). It comes from the Hebrew word הללויה (Hallelujah), found in Jewish Scripture and worship (primarily in the Psalms), and it means "praise (hallelu) God (jah)." It is a word connected to the people of God (Israel and the Church), but also to the praise and worship of the angels. The use of this word is a reminder that at the Mass, we participate in the worship of Heaven itself.
By suppressing the Alleluia we stress (without denying our connection to the worship of Heaven) the pilgrim aspect of the Church. In Lent we have not yet arrived, but are on our way through the desert. Our connection of heaven is still very real, but during this season, we remember instead our earthly journey, our brokenness, our need to confess our sins and to be forgiven. (There is a completely different tradition about Alleluias in Lent in the Eastern Church tradition, but there isn't space here to deal with it.)
Another obvious change in the liturgy is the change in the color of the vestments used at Mass. In modern usage, the color of Lenten vestments is purple, a color associated with both penance and royal dignity. This Lent we will be blessed to use a new set of vestments that was purchased largely with funds from a gift of St. Martha's Guild. These beautiful new vestments will be blessed at this Sunday's 10 a.m. Mass.
Along with these more obvious liturgical changes, the Church has historically observed certain devotional practices. The Book of Common Prayer (p. 17) reads:
The expectation is that every part of our lives (including what we eat) are to be shaped and formed by the rhythms of the Church year.
Lent starts this Wednesday. May God give you the grace to make this Lenten Season a fruitful preparation for Easter.
ADULT FORUM... The Rector was unexpectedly called home to St. Louis this week, so the Adult Forum this Sunday is postponed until next week when the Rector will continue the series on Themes of the Apocalypse: the Book of Revelation.
HELP NEEDED... Preparing the Church for Lent will take place after the 10 a.m. Mass this Sunday. All parishioners are invited to meet in the church, after grabbing a cup of coffee, to help prepare the church for the Lenten season.
REMEMBER FOOD FOR FRIENDS THIS WINTER... No matter what the weather brings, those who are unemployed, underemployed, or members of the working poor have a hard time ahead of them. Many of these persons may be turning to food pantries to make ends meet. Please help St. Paul's, which is serving over 36,000 individuals annually, to help people in serious need. The Food Pantry especially welcomes high protein items, such as beans and canned meats. Otherwise, their wish list asks specifically for tuna, cereal, peanut butter, rice, coffee, and pasta. Alternatively checks may be drawn in favor of St. Paul's Community Development Corporation and marked Food Pantry. Please send checks directly to St. Paul's at 451 Van Houten Street, Paterson, NJ 07501.Thank you.
JOIN US it's MARDI GRAS TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21st Open House 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Food & Beverages Music & Games Raffles Wear a mask, costume or not
Imposition of Ashes and Said Mass 9:15 a.m. and Noon
Imposition of Ashes and Sung Mass 8 p.m.
Ministers of the Assembly
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