Dear Friends and Fellows in the Lord,
It is, as I write, one week to the beginning of Lent. This year I am thinking of the Season as a sort of therapeutic, that is to say a course of such healing that the Lord has designed for His people in soul and body. Last week we considered the healing that might occur through the ministrations of a physician using medicinal agents, and touched also upon the healing that is from the Holy Spirit, the healing’s Source that is outside ourselves.
As Christians (as is witnessed by the apostolic letters in the New Testament to various church congregations and individuals of that time) our spiritual state is frequently rather different from the state to which we are called by our Lord, our Faith and our Baptism. In the earliest days of the Church there is no evidence of a season of Lent but much evidence of the need for the spiritual healing of individuals and congregations. The Apostles were clearly very concerned about this. One of the aspects of the gift of the season of Lent (the word coming, I understand, from an old English word meaning “growth” or “spring") is to be rejuvenated by the Holy Spirit in order to be in a fitter state to celebrate the Paschal Feast of the Atonement and Resurrection of Christ.
Some small discipline is often advised by pastors and spiritual directors to remind us of the need to re-direct our reliance away from our own strengths and preferences to a greater degree of reliance upon the Spirit who exists in fulness outside ourselves but who deigns to come in to strengthen and heal us. It is not any success in keeping the discipline that counts, but the healing of us that it is intended to invite.
The Collect for Quinquagesima, the Next Sunday Before Lent is
O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, 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.
and the Collect for Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) is
Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The two prayers are in some ways similar: the first with the petition “Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity … without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee”: ; and the second with the petition “Create and make in us new and contrite hearts …” In each case we are asking for what only God can do, the healing that only He can provide, without which we admit our “wretchedness” and acknowledge that we are “dead before thee”. These things we pray through and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The healing infusion comes not from our own workshops and surgeries, but from the Lord God's sending to us the Holy Spirit for our re-creation and renewal at our very core.
May we prepare well for a time of healing and renewal. May we pray too at this time for the healing influence of the Lord upon the world’s nations and their laws and outlooks, beginning with our own.
For directions about the services this Sunday the 27th February 2022, the Sunday called Quinquagesima (the Sunday Next Before Lent), please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com .
In faith in the holy Name of our Lord Jesus, who will continue to provide guidance by the Holy Spirit to all His people.