March Magazine Foreword

Dear Friends,

Lent, as a time of preparation for Easter has been with us for a long time, a very long time, in one or other of its forty day forms it dates back to the 4th century. Originally it was probably the prescribed fast for those preparing for Baptism. Then it was thought that the whole Church would benefit from such a preparation for Easter. In the early days the observance of Lent was very strict, only one meal a day, towards evening, no meat, no fish, no eggs, no dairy. From the 9th century things began to be a bit more relaxed, with the time for eating creeping forward, and a light supper being introduced. In the Middle Ages fish was allowed.

We have marked the season by dressing our priest in purple, we omit the Gloria, use the Kyrie instead and Alleluias are not allowed. We are holding a series of ecumenical Lent groups, help us think more deeply about our faith. Sometimes people ask, ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’ It’s all a far cry from one very restricted meal a day.

So has Lent outlived its usefulness in our modern world; is it simply a relic from the past? I don’t think so. As we approach the greatest festival of our Christian year, the festival when we celebrate just how much God was prepared to do for us, it seems completely appropriate that we should think, in a rather more structured way than we usually do, about what we do, or don’t do, and what we can do for God; that we look critically at our discipleship to see where it falls short, and what could be done better; that we use it as a time for deepening our faith, and self discipline can play a helpful role in that.

So I urge you, to take the opportunity Lent offers us to grow in our understanding of our faith and ourselves, and even if we are not holding to a Ramadan type fast, as our ancestors did, to work out what is an appropriate personal discipline, to help us grow in faith and come to Holy Week ready to travel with our Lord on his journey to the Cross, and to find a deeper joy when we finally reach Easter Day.

Love and prayers,