O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
Saints and “Blesseds”
Monday, March 2: John and Charles Wesley
John and Charles Wesley were born in the early 1700s to an Anglican priest and a Puritan mother. They were first called “Methodists” because of their habit of attending Holy Eucharist every Sunday, as opposed to the popular habit of attending three or four times a year. Both ordained as Anglican priests, they set out to reform the English church with a strict “method” of faith and practice, influenced by German pietism. Their message grew so popular with laypeople (and so unpopular with Anglican clergy) that they had to preach in open-air meetings. They always intended a revival within Anglicanism and not to separate, though the movement eventually developed into the Methodist church. Charles is known primarily as a hymn writer and wrote around 6,000 hymns, of which many are still sung today (such as “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending” and “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.”) Both men died still in the Church of England, Charles in 1788 and John in 1791.
Wednesday, March 6: Ash Wednesday
“Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Church calendar. It is Ash Wednesday because it always begins forty days before Easter Sunday not counting Sundays and that is always a Wednesday. Lord’s Day worship is a celebration of the Resurrection and therefore not a fast day. It is Ash Wednesday because on that day Christians have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. It is also a day of fasting beginning forty days of fasting. The forty days reminds us of the fast of Jesus as he prepared for His ministry which resulted in His suffering and death for our sins.” (From our post Ash Wednesday Explained, by Fr. Wayne McNamara. Go to the link to read more)
Thursday, March 7: St. Perpetua and her Companions
Around 203, several North African catechumens were imprisoned for converting to Christianity — among them was a young noblewoman named Perpetua, her maid Felicity and their companions. While they waited for the deaths, Perpetua wrote down an account of her life in prison — her father’s pleadings for her to renounce Christianity, as well as her visions showing her that she would conquer through martyrdom. This record was finished by an eyewitness of their deaths. It was extremely important in the early church (even to the point that Augustine of Hippo had to warn against placing it on the same level as Scripture). On this day in 203, the Christians were taken to the arena to be killed by wild beasts. After Perpetua was hurt by a savage cow, a novice gladiator came to kill her. She had to guide his hand to her throat. “O Most courageous and blessed martyrs! Truly are you called and chosen for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord! All you who seek to magnify, honor and adore the glory of Christ, should read the story of these new witnesses.” (From the account of the martyrdom of Perpetua and her companions. You can read it here)
Friday, March 8: St. Thomas Aquinas
Born in 1225 into a noble family, St. Thomas’s wealthy family intended him to be a respectable Benedictine. When he decided he wanted to become a mendicant Dominican monk, his family was enraged, imprisoning him in their castle and trying to tempt him from his conviction (using such means as sending a nude woman into his room, whom Thomas drove away with a firebrand). At age 20, he succeeded in joining the Dominicans who sent him to the University of Paris, where he began to apply Aristotle to Christian thought. A writer of hymns and homilies, as well as theological treatises, his life’s work was the Summa Theologica. His wisdom, knowledge, and devotion eventually earned him the title of “Angelic Doctor.” One time, while he was at dinner with the royal family, he was lost in thought on the current theological controversies; just at the time when a silence fell in the room, he slammed down his fist on the table and declared, “That finishes the Manichean heresy!” He immediately apologized to the King, who immediately sent for a scribe to copy down Thomas’s (clearly exemplary) argument. He died on March 7, 1274 as he was on his way to the Council of Lyons.
Saturday, March 9: St. Gregory of Nyssa
St. Gregory of Nyssa was born around 330 to Saint Basil the Elder and Saint Emmelia. He was the brother of Saint Basil the Great, Saint Peter of Sebaste, and Saint Macrina. His parents died when he was young and he spoke of Basil being as “father and mother” to him. His sister Macrina was over his education and influenced Gregory all her life (she had converted the household into a sort of monastery). He married a godly woman named Theosebeia and didn’t at first pursue ordination, but instead became a professor of rhetoric. Around 362, he was ordained as priest and then was consecrated Bishop of Nyssa in 372 by Basil his brother. In 379, Basil and Macrina both died, which deeply grieved Gregory. But out of his grief, his theology and devotion deepened. In 381, he was a major defender of orthodoxy at the Second General Council of the Church; he is said to have been the author of the ending phrases of the Nicene Creed. He died around 394.
- Here is a great Pre-Lenten reflection from our friend Lindsay: The February Garden
- Lent begins on Wednesday! Make sure to read the post Ash Wednesday Explained.
- Here is a simple family Lenten prayer booklet, if you are looking for a liturgy to use with your family throughout Lent.
- Lenten Collects (Printable)You can print out the collects for all of Lent.
- Prayer Beads for Children (Printable Prayer Cards) Making Anglican prayer beads could be a great Lenten activity with your children. Bley also formatted prayer cards for you to print.
Also, did you read Greg Goebel’s article from Anglican Pastor: Tailored vs. Traditional: Why Not Do Your Own Thing for Lent? I wish I had read it before I posted on “doing nothing new” for Lent; it was very clarifying. I realized that my desire to “do nothing new” this year springs out of “tailoring-my-own-Lent” fatigue:
“This year, consider not personalizing your Lenten experience. Consider simply doing what has long been done.
Consider just being one of the many Christians around the world who are giving up meat on Fridays, or abstaining from sweets. Consider reading the Daily Office and picking up an ancient Christian reader.
Don’t tailor it. Don’t select from it. Don’t fret about it. Just do it.”