Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 50 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and impending hockey arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Hurrah for Lent - Rector's Rambling for March 5, 2017

Welcome to my favorite time of the year – Lent!  I know it sounds funny, but I really enjoy this ecclesiastical season of prayer, devotion, discipline, and penance.  It is good for my soul, and I know that I need it!
I remember in college hearing a quote from Sigmund Freud that one only really enjoys something if they suffered to get it.  Others point out that the best things are those things that one has to work hard to earn.  At first glance both of these statements “work” for Lent.  We both work hard, and make sacrifices (a little suffering) in order to enjoy the coming celebration of Easter.
But we do Lent not just to enjoy Easter.  We do Lent because we need it.  We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and we should be in a state of repentance and contrition at all times.  But the church has found it most efficacious to spend a long period of time (in this case 40 days) concentrating on sin and repentance.  Just as Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness, so too the Church calls us to fast and pray for 40 days with special intention for the cleansing of our souls.
Please be sure to check out our brochure, “How to keep an Holy Lent”.  This was written by Anne Marie Shuster, the late parish secretary at The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA, while I was the curate there.  She thought it would be handy to have a brochure explaining the various ways that one can “keep Lent”.
Most people know about “giving something up for Lent” (I miss coffee already).  Remember, if what you decided to give up is sinful (smoking, too much drink, fornication) then it isn’t a Lenten devotion – it should be given up for good.  Rather, in Lent we give up something nice, but not sinful, in order to practice self-denial and patience.  Both these virtues are helpful in our year-round fight against vice.
But we also should try to take on some extra disciplines and devotions (Weekday Mass, Daily Office, Stations of the Cross, Bible reading, prayer time, charity work) to help to train us up in the practice of the faith.
I promise you that a hard Lent will make for a sweeter Easter.  But a well thought out, disciplined Lent will help us not only to enjoy the celebration of the Resurrection, but also help us to be better daily Christians throughout the rest of the year by laying a good foundation for these practices outside of Lent as well.