Suggestions for the Keeping of a Holy Lent The Canadian Book of Common Prayer (1962) contains the following exhortation: BRETHREN, in the primitive

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Suggestions for the Keeping of a Holy Lent

The Canadian Book of Common Prayer (1962) contains the following exhortation:

BRETHREN, in the primitive Church it was the custom to observe with great devotion the days of our Lord's Passion and Resurrection, and to prepare for the same by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided also a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for holy Baptism. It was also a time when such persons as had, by reason of notorious sins, been separated from the body of the faithful, were reconciled and restored to the fellowship of the Church by penitence and forgiveness. Thereby the whole Congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution contained in the Gospel of our Saviour, and of the need which all Christians continually have, of a renewal of their repentance and faith. I therefore invite you, 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 meditation upon God's holy Word.

For suggestions for the Keeping of a Holy Lent, click here.



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The season of Lent is a time especially devoted to the three-fold works enjoined upon us by our Lord, namely: fasting, prayer and almsgiving (see Matthew 6:1-18). As we heard in the Epistle on the last Sunday before Lent (1 Corinthians 13), none such things have any value in God's sight apart from charity, thus we must give heed not only to the outward works of faithfulness, but also to the inner life of love for God and neighbor from which they are meant to spring.

Thus the inner life is a subject for contemplation and examination during Lent. As we (God willing) cut out extra things from our daily schedules (be it TV or frivolous reading or video games or some other unnecessary diversion with which we sometimes fill our days) - we should "fill" that space with something intended to be spiritually profitable - the discipline of quiet before God, saying the Daily Office and/or Family Prayers, reading Scripture or attending a weekday service for which we do not usually make time (like the Stations of the Cross, etc.).

All Christians whose health or age does not exempt them should submit to the Lenten fast. Traditionally, each day in Lent is a day of abstinence, typically from meat and dairy. Additionally, each Wednesday and Friday of the week (most especially Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) are strict fasts. (Sundays, on the other hand, are never fast days - they are weekly feasts of Christ's resurrection.)
Fasting from food makes us hungry. Our bodies need to eat and our flesh protests when it doesn't gets the food to which we are accustomed.

It is profitable for us to feel hungry, though many of us avoid this at almost any cost. We thoughtlessly assume that hunger is an evil to be avoided, chased away with snacks and sodas and distractions. And so at meal time we over-eat, indulging ourselves and our every want. What little self denial we exert is often times to some superficial or self-centered end: we want to be thinner than we are, or to be more "fashionable" or we do not order dessert so that he or she (whomever that may be) does not see us eating it. Though it is good to show restraint at the table for the sake of health (in fact this is an aspect of being a good steward of the life that God has given to us), fasting is not a remedy to improve your health or social acceptability. Fasting is for the good of your soul. We need to learn to say "no" to ourselves - to our cravings and affections and desires. Fasting is a means to that end. In fasting we subject ourselves to training - we deny ourselves something that we want to eat (or that we would normally eat) for the sake of the strengthening of our wills. Learning to say "no" at the table is preparation for saying "no" to other (presumably more dangerous) temptations.

As already mentioned, the disciplines of Lent are threefold, thus there is more involved in the keeping of a holy Lent than fasting. By skipping a meal, we have "extra" time - time that we might not have had otherwise. Plan to use this time in a spiritually profitable manner. Spend some time in prayer (even if it is only 10 minutes). Or simply be quiet before God, seeking to resist the manifold distractions that will inevitably assail you. Read the Scriptures more than you might otherwise. Look up the texts appointed for the day and read them slowly - perhaps even more than once. Think about their meaning and write down thoughts that occur to you. Memorize a verse or a passage and later recall and meditate upon it.

Fasting and Prayer - those are the first 2 disciplines of Lent. The 3rd is almsgiving. It is to be expected that you will spend less money on yourself during Lent than at other times of the year. Lent is not a time for self-indulgence or parties. Additionally, you will be eating less often and less extravagantly. Meat is expensive and to cut it out will put a bit of extra cash in your pocket. Instead of spending this on yourself or on something frivolous, why not give this to God as well? Normally you would have spent this money to feed yourself, but now these funds are available for you to give away for someone else's benefit. Give them (secretly, if possible) to someone in need. If you really cannot think of anyone to whom to give your alms, give them to your church or to your priest to be used in some good work. This is the third discipline of Lent - almsgiving.

Seek the Lord during these 40 days. Seek to die to yourself and grow in love for God and neighbor. Find time to keep silent vigil before the Lord. Pray. Fast. Give alms. Attend the services which the Church offers for your spiritual health and prepare yourself in advance for them. May this Lenten season be a time of great spiritual growth for us, as we pray for the gift of repentance and seek to humble ourselves before the Lord in order that, in His good time He may lift us up to Himself. Let us pray that God would give us His grace such that we might keep a holy Lent, to His glory and to the good of our souls.


Academy Open House

Open house insert

Stations of the Cross


The Stations of the Cross (followed by an address from the Rector) will be said every Friday in Lent at 6:30 pm.

A meatless soup dinner will follow. Please sign up in Cranmer Hall if you plan to attend the dinner. (This is not a potluck - no need to bring anything).

Children are welcome!

To view the stations as they are said at St. Mark's, click here.


Briefly Noted:

Prayers at the Rail. Following the service this Sunday, any who desire to receive the ministry of the laying on of hands and prayers for the sick are invited to meet the Rector at the altar rail after the Postlude.

The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - March 25th. Holy Communion at 6 pm, followed by dinner.

A new ministry: "Parish Fellowship Meals" is being organized. Information is available in the narthex or by speaking with David or Joanne DeFlavis.

St. Mark's Knitting & Needlepoint Fellowship will meet for the first time on March 9th (following the service). No experience is necessary. Information is available in Cranmer Hall or by contacting Phyllis Darrah.

Grace RE Church (Collingdale) - Many thanks to those who have made donations to Grace Church. At the moment food items are especially needed. Another need is for toiletries (toothbrushes, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shaving items, etc.) One of the women of the church is interested in teaching the girls how to sew but sewing machines are difficult to find. If you were once a sewer and have a sewing machine that you no longer need, please consider donating it. Portable machines are first choice but whatever you have would be welcome. Also don’t forget that bicycle that your children might have outgrown or an adult bicycle that is no longer used. They appreciate anything that is donated and nothing is wasted. Contact Judy Palmer for more information.


On the Calendar:

Men's Prayer Fellowship - Saturdays at 9 - 9:30 am.
Pipe Organ work - Saturdays at 9:30 am.
Young Adults Fellowship Group. Thursdays at 7 pm. RSVP to Brian at or (334) 791-2681.
Spring Break for St. Mark's Classical Academy - March 10-14.
Open House for St. Mark's Classical Academy - March 18th at 7 pm.
The Feast of The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - March 25th. Holy Communion at 6 pm, followed by dinner.
Church Revitalization Seminar with Canon Philip Ashey - April 5th (9am-4pm). All are strongly encouraged to attend.
Parish Easter Egg Hunt - April 12th at 10 am.
"Women's Day" Banquet - a ministry of the Reformed Episcopal Church Committee on Women's Ministry will host a banquet at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, just prior to the opening of the 54th General Council of the REC.**


Holy Week & Easter:

Palm Sunday (April 13) - Festive Procession & Holy Communion, 10 am
Monday - Wednesday in Holy Week - Holy Communion daily at 8 am
Maundy Thursday (April 17) - Holy Communion & the Stripping of the Altar, 7 pm
Good Friday (April 18) - The Litany & Meditations on the 7 Last Words of Christ, Noon
Holy Saturday (April 19) - The Great Vigil of Easter, 10:30 pm
Easter Sunday (April 20) - Festive Holy Communion, 10 am