Wednesday, 14 February 2018

‘A reminder that true love is costly,
painful and usually entails sacrifice’

Hearts and gifts for Saint Valentine’s Day in a shopfront in Askeaton this week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Ash Wednesday, 14 February 2018:

8 p.m.: Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton:

Ash Wednesday Eucharist (Holy Communion 2) and the traditional imposition of ashes.


Readings: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51: 1-18; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Today, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day that is often marked by the spiritual disciplines of fasting, abstinence from meat, and repentance. And so, the Book of Common Prayer designates Ash Wednesday as a day of ‘special observance’ and a day of ‘discipline and self-denial.’

But I imagine that many people are marking today, instead as Saint Valentine’s Day. I see red hearts and gifts wrapped in red ribbons and bows in the windows of many shops in Askeaton this week, reminding people not to forget their loved ones today.

Ever since the commercial lure of Christmas came to an end, restaurants have been reminding people since early January that they needed to book well in advance if they wanted a table for two and an intimate dinner among the crowds this evening.

In the G2 section of The Guardian on Monday [12 February 2018], the columnist Rhik Samadder declared he was excited that this year Saint Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, ‘a time for repentance, self-examination and fasting.’

And he wrote: ‘There must be some people who will try to observe both. How are they going to do it? Alcohol-free bubbles? A bright red What Would Jesus Do bracelet? … It promises to throw into relief other facets of love, the austere, punishing and holy. Relationships could crack under the pressure. The whole thing promises to be very confusing, as any day dedicated to such a complicated emotion should be.’

But Father Alec Mitchell, the Anglican Priest-in-Charge of the Parish of Saint Anne in Denton in the Diocese of Manchester, rose to the challenge with a letter to the editor yesterday [13 February 2018], saying it is not only a chance to smuggle heart-shaped crosses of ash on to the foreheads of the faithful but also ‘a reminder that true love is costly, painful and usually entails sacrifice.’

That is true of true love if we are blessed enough at some stage in our life to celebrate on Saint Valentine’s Day. But there is even a greater truth in it on Ash Wednesday as we begin to contemplate the true love of God for us that is costly, painful and entails sacrifice expressed in the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

That true love lasts longer than a card or Saint Valentine’s Day or a dinner in a crowded restaurant that we try to pretend is intimate and romantic.

God’s love for us is costly and sacrificial, it is truly passionate. And when the flowers fad and the roses turn to ashes, God’s love for you continues to live, and burns with ardour eternally.

And so, may all our thoughts, words and deeds be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Preparing for Saint Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday … a restaurant in Lichfield invites bookings for this evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Liturgical resources:

The traditional Ash Wednesday invitation or exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer begins:

‘Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

‘At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church’s fellowship from which they had been separated through sin. In the course of time, the Church came to recognise that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

‘I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Lord to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.’

Silence may be kept.

Then the priest says:


Let us pray for grace to keep Lent faithfully.

Almighty and everlasting God
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent.
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we may be truly sorry for our sins
and obtain from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Penitential Kyries:

In the wilderness we find your grace:
you love us with an everlasting love.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

There is none but you to uphold our cause;
our sin cries out and our guilt is great.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed;
Restore us and we shall know your joy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Imposition of Ashes

The imposition of ashes follows; the president says:

Dear friends in Christ,
I invite you to receive these ashes
as a sign of the spirit of penitence with which we shall keep this season of Lent.

God our Father,
you create us from the dust of the earth:
grant that these ashes may be for us
a sign of our penitence
and a symbol of our mortality;
for it is by your grace alone
that we receive eternal life
in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

The president and people receive the imposition of ashes, the president first receiving the imposition from another minister. At the imposition the minister says to each person:

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.

During the imposition silence may be kept.

This prayer may be said by the president:

God our Father,
the strength of all who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers;
and because, in our weakness,
we can do nothing good without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments
we may please you, both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Intercessions (Common Worship):

With confidence and trust let us pray to the Father.
For the one holy catholic and apostolic Church …
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For the mission of the Church,
that in faithful witness it may preach the gospel
to the ends of the earth,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For those preparing for baptism [and confirmation] …
and for their teachers and sponsors,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For peace in the world …
that a spirit of respect and reconciliation may grow
among nations and peoples,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For the poor, the persecuted, the sick, and all who suffer …
for refugees, prisoners, and all in danger;
that they may be relieved and protected,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For those whom we have injured or offended,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

For grace to amend our lives and to further the reign of God,
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

In communion with all those who have walked in the way of holiness …
let us pray to the Father.
Lord of compassion,
in your mercy hear us.

God our Father,
in your love and goodness
you have taught us to come close to you in penitence
with prayer, fasting and generosity;
accept our Lenten discipline,
and when we fall by our weakness,
raise us up by your unfailing mercy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Introduction to the Peace:

Being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5: 1, 2)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who was in every way tempted as we are yet did not sin;
by whose grace we are able to overcome all our temptations:

The invitation to Communion begins:

Most merciful Lord,
your love compels us to come in.
Our hands were unclean, our hearts were unprepared;
we were not fit even to eat the crumbs from under your table.
But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,
and share your bread with sinners.
So cleanse and feed us with the precious body and blood of your Son,
That he may live in us and we in him;
and that we, with the whole company of Christ,
may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life:
Give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blessing:

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,
to deny yourselves,
and to take up your cross and follow him:

Hymns:

535: Judge eternal, throned in splendour.

586: Just as I am, thine own to be.

Saint Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday … hearts and gifts for Saint Valentine’s Day in a shopfront in Askeaton this week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Announcements:

This service is followed by tea/coffee in the Rectory.

Tomorrow (Thursday 15 February 2018):

Parish study group, ‘All Things Are Possible’ (USPG), The Rectory, Askeaton.

Sunday 18 February 2018, the First Sunday in Lent:

9.30 a.m.:
Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

11.30 a.m.: The Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert.

On this Sunday, the Dean of Limerick, the Very Revd Niall Sloane, is presiding and preaching at both services, while Canon Patrick Comerford is presiding and preaching at the Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, as the Canon Precentor.

Tuesday 20 February 2018:

7.30 p.m.:
Askeaton and Castletown select vestries, meeting in The Rectory, Askeaton.

No comments: