Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Feria IV Cinerum

And so we start our spiritual springtime. 'Lent' is an old English word meaning 'spring' and we hope that, through our prayer, fasting and almsgiving over the next six weeks, we will turn our back on darkness and walk towards the light.

Today is the busiest holyday that is not of obligation (with the possible exception of St Patrick!) - the churches are packed although, as I journeyed to the diocesan archives by tube and bus this morning, I only spotted one other person with an ashen forehead. Although
today's Gospel warns against parading our penances, Ash Wednesday does provide an opportunity to publicly witness to the Faith as we walk about bearing the sign of the cross on our heads.

Lent always makes me think of the Station Churches, which I used to try to visit when I was a seminarian in Rome. Today's station is the Dominican basilica of Santa Sabina and it is here that the Holy Father celebrated Mass this evening, accompanied by the friars singing the traditional chants. The Pontifical North American College has been a great pioneer of reviving this custom and they have a wonderful set of pages describing the daily stations. It is worth following them each day of Lent.

A blessed and holy Lent to you all!



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