Several seasonal changes in our manner of worship mark the way during our Lenten pilgrimage.Our place of worship is much more sparsely adorned. For example, we put away the silver and gold, and use more “earthy” candlesticks, chalice, and paten. On the first Sunday of our Lenten journey, we will perform the Great Litany, perhaps our most somber prayer of penitence, penned by Thomas Cranmer in 1544 as a form of national penitence during England's war with Spain and France. Also, because we are preparing for our joyful destination, we refrain from saying “Alleluia” during Lent and don't sing "Glory to God" at the beginning of the service. This way, when the Great Alleluia of the Easter Vigil is proclaimed, it has all the more impact.
Similarly, subtle seasonal changes in our language remind us of the Lenten pilgrimage to which we are summoned. For example, our opening proclamation changes to "Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins" and we no longer say "Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us" but rather "Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world; have mercy on us."
Also, notice that our priests don't pronounce the normal blessing of the people at the end of our liturgy.Rather, during Lent the priests proclaim what is historically known as a "solemn blessing over the people." The deacon will bid us to kneel by saying, "Let us bow down before the Lord" or "Let us humble ourselves before God" at which time all who are able are encouraged to kneel.The celebrant then says a seasonal prayer in lieu of blessing. For example, on the first Sunday in Lent, I will offer the following petition on our behalf: "Grant, Almighty God, that your people may recognize their weakness and put their whole trust in your strength, so that they may rejoice for ever in the protection of your loving providence; through Christ our Lord. Amen." The deacon then dismisses us with “Let us bless the Lord.” These traditional but subtle verbal and visual cues during our worship are intended to enrich our Lenten pilgrimage on which we strive to "cleanse our hearts, and prepare with joy for the Paschal feast."
Fri, February 17, 2012
by Kathleen Merritt filed under