Saint Paul's Episcopal Church


Thomas and A Street - Altus, Oklahoma

Priest's Reflections


Dear Parish Family,
Every year I am surprised how quickly we move from celebrating our Lord's birth to the penitential season of Lent. In fact, this year Lent begins really early since Ash Wednesday is February 14th and Easter is April 1st. The season Lent finds its meaning and origin in Easter. From the beginning of the early church, the annual remembrance and celebration of our Lord's resurrection and, consequently, of our redemption---EASTER---has been the principle feast of the Church, the high point and culmination of the Christian year. As such, those who had already entered into the community of the redeemed, recognized the need for personal preparation for the Easter Feast. By the second century, all Christians fasted at least a day or more in preparation for Easter, depending upon the level of their devotion. By the 4th century, it had become customary for the devout priests and lay persons to join the catechumens (those preparing to enter the community) in their more intense fasts, instructions and other preparations. During this time began the emergence of what is now called the traditional number of days to fast before Easter: 40 days, following the biblical witness of Jesus' 40-day fast in the wilderness, Moses' 40 days with God on Mount Sinai, and Elijah's 40 days of wandering as he journeyed to Horeb, the mountain of God.

In the early centuries of the Church, Lent was dedicated in particular not only to the preparation of catechumens for baptism, but also to the preparation of penitents for reconciliation and readmittance to the Eucharistic assembly of the Church. At first, only those doing public penance received ashes on their foreheads to begin their penance (6th to 7th centuries). By the 10th century, all the faithful began their Lenten observance with the imposition of ashes as a sign of their repentance and mortality.

Thus, Lent traditionally has become a time of fasting, abstinence, corporate and private prayer, self-discipline, serving others, study, reflection and penance. It is a special time for the whole Church to be on a retreat, to take inventory and reexamine priorities, to leave sin and self behind in the love and service to God and our neighbors. To keep a good Lent means to draw closer to God and one another and to prepare ourselves once again to renew our covenant with God through the reciting of our baptismal vows. Lent is a time to prepare to enter afresh into the mystery of Jesus' resurrection and our redemption.

There will be many opportunities during this Lent for us to come together for meals, education, prayers, and fellowship --- But--- on Tuesday evening, FEBRUARY 13, ---before we make our resolutions and commit to change our lives over the next 40 days we will come together for one last "party." We will have our traditional, "FAT TUESDAY PANCAKE SUPPER" in the parish hall. Invite your friends and neighbors, no tickets will be sold but donations will be gladly received. ALL are welcome. Pancakes and sausage will be served from 5:00-7:00 p.m. The "men of St. Paul's" will do the cooking and female volunteers will act as "wait-staff."

The Lenten season will formally begin with the traditional evening service of ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE WITH IMPOSITION OF ASHES AND EUCHARIST on FEBRUARY 14TH at 7:00 p.m.

On WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21ST, and every Wednesday thereafter, we will have our weekly SOUP SUPPER and LENTEN STUDY. There will be a simple meal of soup and bread/crackers. There will be a Sign-Up sheet for the soups. Please note on the sign-up sheet what kind of soup you plan to bring so that we may have a variety! We will need at least 3-4 soups each evening (you should prepare enough soup for 10-15 persons). The meal will begin at 5:30.
The LENTEN STUDY will begin at 6:30 p.m. and continue to 7:30-7:45 p.m. The study will be Rowan Williams (immediate past Archbishop of Canterbury) book BEING DISCIPLES, ESSENTIALS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. It is a beautifully written little instruction book in Christian Discipleship. "Discipleship" Williams says is a state of being. It is about how we live; not just the decisions we make, not just the things we believe, but a state of being. In 6 succinct chapters he talks about what is required for us to continue following Jesus and grow in faith. The chapters are: 1. Being Disciples 2. Faith, Hope, and Love 3. Forgiveness 4. Holiness 5. Faith in Society 6. Life in the Spirit. Each week we will discuss a chapter. Books will be available in the parish hall beginning February 4th with a basket for donations to defray the expense of the books. ($ 7.00)

During HOLY WEEK, the last week of March, there will be numerous special services which I will talk about next month.
May we all have a Holy and Blessed Lent!!

Blessings always,
Mother Suzanne