Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Expectantly

Lent is one of my favorite church seasons. It’s a season that allows us to truly recognize our humanity. Inherent in our humanity is the fact that we will sin. It is going to happen. To me, Lent is the season that lets us know that even though we are bound to sin, we will be forgiven. But Lent is not only about reflecting on our transgressions, it is also about repairing and strengthening our relationship with God.

Ashes On-The-Go
As you can probably imagine, the season of Lent is a very busy one for a church. St. Paul's started out the season participating in Ashes on-the-go on Ash Wednesday. We stood outside the church on Via Nazionale, one of the busiest streets in Rome, and gave ashes to people passing by. Over the 3-4 hours that we were out there, we must have given ashes to over 100 people. St. Paul's is offering a variety of different classes and spiritual formation exercises this year, and I'm happy to be a part of many of them. It is pretty tiring though! My calendar last week was crazy, with a different event each night of the week.

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust
 you shall return"

St. Paul's Intern, Areeta

One thing that has been great for me this Lenten season has been preparing a baptism class with fellow intern Areeta Bridgemohan, called Roots of Our Faith. The class is focusing on what we are all asked to do in our baptismal vows and specifically how the Episcopal Church equips us to live out those vows. The class is designed for those that are preparing for baptism at the Easter vigil. It has been wonderful for me during this season of reflection to look at the vows I’ve made to God.

Archbishop David Moxon and Me
One of my weekly practices since I've been in Rome has been going to the Anglican Center eucharist on Tuesdays. The Anglican Center is basically the Embassy of The Anglican Church to The Roman Catholic Church. It is headed by the The Most Reverend Sir David Moxon, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury's representative to the Vatican. Archbishop David was previously the Archbishop of New Zealand. Folks from Camp Henry will remember the night prayer that we use at camp many nights (Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness...). This prayer comes from the New Zealand prayer book, which Archbishop David had a hand in writing. This particular prayer was drafted for the New Zealand BCP by a group and then thrown away because they didn't think it was good enough. Archbishop David literally saved the prayer from the trash can, and now it is used all over the world. It is one of my favorite collects to end the day on, so thanks David!

The Anglican Center's extensive library

The Chapel

Fellowship Lunch

Mantsonyane Lodge, paid for by the Community
of the Resurrection in England
Each week, a small group from St. Paul's heads over to the center to enjoy a eucharist and fellowship lunch with people from all over the world. You can never be too sure who you will run into at the Anglican Center. With Rome being a hot spot for pilgrims and travelers, the group that comes to the weekly eucharist changes every time. It's truly a microcosm of the Anglican Communion. It has happened on more than one occasion that I've met people at the eucharist that have not only been to Lesotho, but have been to St. James Hospital in Mantsonyane where I was working last year! The most recent time this happened I was speaking with Fr. Nicolas from the Community of the Resurrection in Mirefield, England. The Community of the Resurrection paid for the new guest house that St. James built during my time last year. The building is beautiful and has been a real asset to the hospital. The Anglican Communion is a smaller world than we like to think sometimes!

It is great, especially during this busy time of Lent, to be able to attend a service where I don't have to do anything other than participate. It is really nice to be able to sit in a service and know that I am not responsible for making anything happen. I just get to worship! Although we might not always be the best at it here, it is nice to be able to drop everything that is happening during the week and go pray. Even if things are extremely busy at the church, we all stop and head to the Anglican Center.

So, during this season of Lent I urge you to take time to stop what you are doing, no matter how important it is, and pray. Reflect on, renew, and strengthen your connection to God through prayer. And in the words of the New Zealand night prayer, "Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, and new possibilities" that will come after this blessed season of spiritual reflection.

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