Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | February 9, 2024

Congregation Update: Seasons Change

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, we journey with Jesus to the top of Mount Carmel, to a place of dazzling brilliance and divine promise. The ascent is demanding, the view unparalleled, the landscape vast, the descent sobering. The sign and import of the Transfiguration is inexhaustible, but one thing comes into clear focus: we can’t stay there. Like the laws of Newtonian physics, we move up and down.

The direction of the coming season, Lent, is all about grounding and depth. In the sparse landscape, we can rediscover, or discover for the first time, God’s love for us. Led by the Spirit, we can unclutter our inner lives, and clear and cleanse our muddied relationships with God, ourselves, and one another. 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, this year, February 14. The ashes for Ash Wednesday are made by burning palms from prior years’ Palm Sundays. Please bring palms throughout the day on Sunday, February 11, and join us at 6 pm, when the evening liturgy concludes with a beautiful rite of Palms to Ashes. Ashes help us to recall the brevity of human life, our mortality, and the holy opportunity to return to God’s loving embrace. Participate in Ash Wednesday by praying Morning Prayer, receiving ashes at the noon Eucharist or 6:10 pm, or visiting the cathedral for confession or pastoral counsel throughout the day.

Traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving facilitate our Lenten journey. For personal prayer, consider the Examen, a method of reflection in the light of God, developed by Ignatius of Loyola, with many modern reimaginings. For corporate prayer, look to the Daily Office and join us for weekday Morning Prayer. Investigate practices of fasting. And give alms for the mission of the whole church.

The imagery of Lent is wilderness and desert, but Sundays are “in,” not “of,” Lent. On Sundays in Lent, we hear gospel accounts that are designed to support adults preparing for Sacraments of Initiation, especially Baptism, and to bring the whole Christian community together in the renewal of a baptized life. Formation for adult baptism will begin on Sunday, February 18, and there is still room for you to join. 

The goal and tenor of Lent is not self-recrimination or self-development, it’s freedom. By setting aside some of our attachments, we are invited to become more fully the people that God called and created us to be. And although we’ll find some buoyancy and sense of accomplishment along the way, we don’t do this primarily for ourselves. We do it following Christ, who in absolute freedom gave himself for the life of the world. Blessed are we when we glimpse that life, in its heights and in its depths. 

Every good gift,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi 
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

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