As we approach Ash Wednesday, it is possible that the current State of Emergency may be lifted by the provincial government within the next two weeks. For Ash Wednesday, regardless of what changes the province may make, we will stay with our current practice of providing recorded or live-stream worship with “no more than three persons” in the church (except where a parish has the permission of their territorial archdeacon to have a maximum of five people.) As Lent progresses, I hope that we will be able to return to in-person worship.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Lent is a season with twofold character; in it we recall or prepare for baptism and, through confession of sin and forgiveness, we are further opened to prayer and the hearing of God’s Word. Together, these things prepare us to celebrate the mystery of Easter.
I encourage you to use the authorized liturgies (BCP, p. 611, 138 or BAS, p. 281) with whatever adaptations will faithfully allow you to serve the “assembly” in your charge.
The use of ashes is optional.
If ashes are NOT to be used, I suggest a simple instruction (spoken before the liturgy or as a written rubric) that participants at home may trace the sign/shape of the cross, without ashes, on their own foreheads at these or similar words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
If ashes WILL be present, either in the church or at home, I ask you to simply leave dry ashes in a container and to lift and *sprinkle some of the ashes (so that they fall back into the container) at these or similar words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” At the same moment, all participants may trace the sign/shape of the cross, without ashes, on their own foreheads. Please do not impose ashes on anyone’s forehead this year. (The *sprinkling of ashes is an ancient and continuing practice for expressing the gospel on this day.)
The visible sign of ashes and/or the tracing of the baptismal cross on the forehead is a powerful and sufficient sign of our mortality and our oneness, through baptism, with Christ in His life, death, and resurrection.
Many of you would usually go on a retreat during Lent to recharge your batteries, spiritually, emotionally and physically. While that is not possible this year, I urge you to set aside a few days to be as retreat-like as possible. There are many on-line retreats being offered at this time. Or simply doing little but reading, praying or sleeping for a couple days may be what you need. If you need support with speaking about this to your wardens, please be in touch with your territorial archdeacon.
Thank you for your ongoing pastoral and liturgical leadership in the churches of Huron. Wishing you a holy and blessed Lent,
I am yours in Christ,
Bishop of Huron
- If possible, parishioners should be invited to drop off any blessed palms distributed last year to be burned. Please ask parishioners to do so when already out on essential errands.
- The bishop will be preaching at the Cathedral’s Ash Wednesday service, a link will be provided closer to the date
- An Ash Wednesday Service will be available from the Proud Anglicans of Huron Committee, a link will be released closer to the date
- Ash Wednesday at home materials from Virginia Theological Seminary may be found here
- Discipleship resources for Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide from the Reverend Marty Levesque may be found on our website.
- Family Devotional Reflections on the Heart may be found here
- Devotional Where Your Heart Is may be found here
- Resources from the Anglican Church of Canada are available here
- Basic Income for Canadians Lenten Study by Social and Ecological Justice Huron. For more information, click here.
- Encounters with Christ: A Lenten Sermon Series from the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. For more information, click here