Note to readers: Liturgical entries on this blog are based on the traditional calendar of the Books of Common Prayer and the traditional one-year Eucharistic lectionary. If you follow a newer calendar or three-year lectionary, there are variations in names for some Sundays and in the readings.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Too Much Lent?- or Not Enough?

In a previous post, I spoke of some basic Lenten devotions, and certainly Lent is an important time of preparation. Observing this season devoutly can help us commemorate our Lord's crucifixion and resurrection more deeply. Yet, sometimes I wonder about our observances. In our parishes, we often have special services, more people at Wednesday night studies with simple meals, extra devotional booklets,  etc. I don't deny the the devotional and disciplinary value of such observances. Each one of them can be good and useful.

However, sometimes we may overdo them. The Lenten schedule may lead us to exhaustion or to a jaded feeling. And at times, we seem to be seeking merit before God just as much as the medieval church did. Furthermore, we sometimes seem to expend so much time and energy during Lent that we have little left for Easter and the season commemorating the Resuurection. So as we approach the last two weeks of Lent, let us assess our seasonal devotional life. If we have been lazy, then it is a good time to dedicate ourselves to new efforts. And if we have been hyperactive and bordering on works righteousness, let us calmly focus on the meaning- which is what God has done in Christ, both His atoning suffering and death and His gracious offer of new and eternal life.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lenten Devotions

There are many devotions around for Lent. Some of them are good or useful. Yet, as a prayer book Anglican, I never quite understand the fascination with the exotic or novel approaches that abound. Anglicans do not really need to go searching in diverse places and traditions. The Book of Common Prayer in its various editions has various possibilities.
One can do a full or abbreviated Morning and Evening Prayer from the 1928 BCP. The 1962 Canadian BCP has a lovely form of Compline. And those who do not have the time or understand all the rubrics for the standard offices could read a Psalm and/or New Testament lesson from the daily lectionary and use the Family Prayer section in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. The traditional collects for Ash Wednesday and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Easter could also be used appropriately on any day in Lent. Finally, the Great Litany which is under-utilized in our time makes an excellent corporate or personal devotion during Lent.

So personally, I don't see the need for a new book of contemporary Lenten meditations, especially those that ignore our Anglican heritage. Nor do I see the need to borrow Roman traditions such as the Rosary, the Stations, or other devotions invoking the saints. The Prayer Book is rich and scriptural, and it is adaptable, especially in personal devotions. It has helped me to pass many a blessed Lent.