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Lenten Journey:  

Lent is the season not for the guilty, but for the grateful. As sinners are freely and fully forgiven by God for Christ’s sake, we are ready to amend our lives according to his Word, and by the help of his Spirit. But if the season of Lent is to be a time for us to grow into wholeness of spirit, then it helps to be specific about what those spiritual disciplines are going to be. Vagueness is the enemy of spiritual growth.  This paper is a guide to formulating specific intentions for the observance of the season.

In the common prayers of the Church, and in the ministry of Word and Sacrament, we center our lives on Christ, and the redemption he has accomplished for us, and the grace that he has promised to those who trust in him.

  • Participation in worship on Sundays, and in Holy Week especially Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, as circumstances permit: either in-person, or online, or reading the Prayer Book and Bible aloud either alone or with others
  • Specifically, with the help of God, I am going to…

By Fasting, Abstinence, and self-denial, we seek to cultivate the virtue of Temperance, or self-control, that through the distraction of appetite we may not fall from faith.

  • Fasting until evening on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
  • Abstaining from rich or large amounts of food on all other weekdays until Easter Eve
  • Limiting other indulgences, amusements, and festivities (e.g. smoking, alcohol, television, social media, parties etc.)
  • Specifically, with the help of God, I am going to….

By Prayer, we cultivate patience and hope in God’s promise of grace and power to save.  Such prayer involves the reading of God’s word in Scripture, in the context of penitence for sin, praise of God’s glory, and petitions for his grace.

  • The Church’s Morning and/or Evening Prayer according to the Prayer Book provides a complete form of daily prayer
  • The Family Morning and/or Evening Prayer (Prayer Book, p. 587) combined with reading of Scripture
  • Specifically, with the help of God, I am going to….

By Almsgiving, we cultivate charity, or brotherly love, in gratitude for God’s love to us.

  • Money not spent on rich food, drink, amusement, indulgences, etc. can be devoted to relief of those in need or the mission of the church
  • Specifically, with the help of God, I am going to….

Collects for the Right Observance of Lenten Discipline


O GOD, who art wroth with them that sin against thee, and sparest them that are penitent:  mercifully look upon the prayers of thy people that call upon thee; and turn away the scourges of thy wrath which for our sins we justly deserve; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.


GRACIOUSLY favour us, O Lord, we beseech thee, in the fast which we have begun; that we may be enabled to fulfill with pure minds the duties that we outwardly perform; through Jesus Christ our Lord &c.  Amen


GIVE ear, O Lord, to our supplications:  and grant that we may observe with devout service this solemn fast, which was instituted for the healing of soul and body; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


TURN thou us, O God our Saviour:  and, that this Lenten fast may be profitable unto us, instruct our minds in all heavenly learning; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.


The illustration of the thorn of crowns is courtesy of our talented parishioner, Mick McCay. This essay was published in the St. John’s Parish Paper for Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. If you have questions or topics for a featured story, please send them to Rector Gavin Dunbar.