In the previous Anglican Moment, I reiterated the fact that one of the purposes for Christ’s Incarnation was to reclaim the entirety of God’s creation for God and His holy purposes which in the beginning He called “good”. I emphasized that part of this creation, of course, is time. In Ephesians 5:16, St. Paul exhorts Christians to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” Therefore, the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit developed a Liturgical Calendar for this very purpose of redeeming the time.
I then reminded you that it was for this reason that one of the major aspects of my vision for parish ministry is to help develop the liturgical life of the parish and to help all parishioners to incorporate the Liturgical seasons and celebrations into their lives. I call this plan collectively, “Redeeming the Time.” “Redeeming the Time” means planning for the themes, moods, and liturgies of the Christian Year, and also includes special reinforcing festivities to help make it all an active and anticipated part of life as a Christian.
Last time, we examined the themes and mood of Lent. This brings us now to an examination of the Liturgy and its changes during Lent. Remember the purpose of the changes is not to just do something different, but to emphasize the unique themes and mood of the Season of Lent and to help us more fully immerse ourselves as Christians in those themes and mood.
The Sanctuary and the Chancel: Both the Sanctuary and the Chancel will be as plain as possible to keep with the penitential theme of Lent. All banners and other decorations will be removed from these areas. We will replace our normal altar cross with a wooden cross and the altar candles holders with wooden holders. All of the crosses will be veiled during this season as well.
Altar Flowers: In keeping with Lent’s penitential theme of preparation, there are no flowers on the altar.
The Paschal Candle: The Paschal Candle, which during most of the Church year stands beside the baptismal font, will be removed from the Church until the Easter Vigil.
Sanctus Bells: The normal Sanctus Bells are replaced during Lent with a single bell.
Liturgical Colors: Our altar hangings and vestments will be purple for this season. Purple is the color of both penance and the royal color worn to prepare for the King.
The Processional: Our entrance rite will be different during Lent. Rather than singing a hymn, we will process either reciting the Great Litany (pp. 148-153) or a penitential psalm in unison. The reason for doing this is because both the Great Litany and these penitential psalms “have served as a special sources of prayer and reflection during Lent for centuries” (ourcatholicprayers.com by Christopher Castagnoli).
The Opening Acclamation: In keeping with the theme of Lent, we will use a more appropriate acclamation to draw us into worship which will have a theme of penance and preparation.
The Decalogue (Ten Commandments): On some Sunday’s during Lent, we will use the Decalogue in place of the Summary of the Law. The Summary of the Law, of course, encompasses all of the Ten Commandments (“Loving God” covers the first 4 Commandments and “Loving Neighbor” covers the last 6 Commandments). However, the Decalogue “sets the clear tone of Lent which is a call to repentance and faithfulness to God’s Law.” The use of the 10 Commandments, therefore, is very appropriate for renewing our covenant vows before God in the liturgy during this penitential season. (“Lent: Why Do We Do the Strange Things We Do” by Fr. Eric Dudley).
The Kyrie Eleison: Again in keeping with the penitential theme of preparation in Lent, there are certain omissions in the Eucharistic Liturgy. This is where we find one of those omissions – The Gloria in Excelsis (no glorias or alleluias). In place of the Gloria, we will sing the Kyrie Eleison which better fits with our Lenten themes. This is “one of the earliest penitential supplications used in the Christian Church and it comes from the Old Testament.” We will sing the 9-fold Kyrie (each line sung three times for a total of 9 lines). (“Lent: Why Do We Do the Strange Things We Do” by Fr. Eric Dudley)