Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Lent Message 2015

Posted Feb 10, 2015

Lent is “a journey that is about enlightenment if we’re willing to think about it that way.”

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] “That cross that comes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday is a reminder of the cross that’s put there at Baptism,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her Lent Message 2015.

The video of the Presiding Bishop’s message is here.

Lent is a season of Christian reflection that begins on Ash Wednesday (February 18) and concludes on Easter (April 5).

The Presiding Bishop also noted Lent is “a journey that is about enlightenment if we’re willing to think about it that way.”

The following is the Presiding Bishop’s Lent Message 2015


Lent is about to begin. That word in English comes from an Old English word that means “to lengthen,” and it’s a reminder of the days getting longer as we move toward summer out of the dark of winter.

But in a number of other languages, particularly Spanish and French, the word for “Lent” reflects “forty days,” “cuaresma.” Forty days of wandering in the desert, forty days of Jesus out in the desert.

It’s also about a journey.  And it’s a journey that is about enlightenment if we’re willing to think about it that way.

Lent is an ancient tradition of solidarity and preparation for those who look forward to Baptism at the Easter Vigil.  It has always been a time for prayer and study, fasting, self-denial, and alms-giving, sharing what we have with those who do not have.  Prayer is an opportunity to reflect on who walks with us in the desert, who brings light into the world. Study is an opportunity to do the same kinds of things looking at the history of our tradition, where have human beings found light and direction in their journey through this world.  Fasting and self-denial are an inward-reflection on what it is that keeps us in the dark, or what it is that keeps us directionless, or that keeps us overly self-focused.  And it becomes an invitation to turn outward and share what we have with those who have not.  To build solidarity among God’s people and the rest of the earth.

One of the most memorable Ash Wednesdays I ever spent was in San Jose, Costa Rica, in a school for children. I was asked to place ashes on the foreheads of toddlers.  It was a provocative experience in the deepest sense, reminding very small children that they are mortal.

That cross that comes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday is a reminder of the cross that’s put there at Baptism.  You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.  The cross that comes at Ash Wednesday is a reminder that you are dust and to dust we shall return, that we share that dust with every other human being who has ever walked this planet, that we share that dust with the stars and the planets, that we share that dust with all that has been created.  We are made for relationship with creator and creation.

Lent and cuaresma is a journey to walk toward that light.  May it be a blessed one this year.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


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Comments (13)

  1. This message says it all. It should be in every church bulletin! JR, UK

    1. Shelby Fisher says:

      This message would elucidate more about Ash Wednesday if it mentioned grief and repentance concerning sin, topics central to this holy day from the time of its inception.

      In the Bible we learn that placing ashes on oneself reflects grief and mourning which are often connected to personal awareness of sin and heartfelt turning from those acts of wrongdoing (please read Job 30:19; 42:6; Daniel 9:3-5; Jonah 3:6; and Matthew 11:21). The ashes from the ancient ritual of the heifer (Numbers 19) were used in purification rites. Because of Jesus who came to fulfill the Law (not to invalidate it, Matthew 5:17) we live in a better situation as taught by the book of Hebrews (9:13-14) which gladly affirms that if the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on defiled persons were effective for purifying them outwardly, how much more will the blood (i.e., sacrificial death) of Christ purify our consciences from sinful acts that lead to death so that we may worship and serve the living God!

      We are all mortal, frail, and beset with sin but this sober truth which we rightly admit is hardly a “negative” one. Because of Jesus’ death to effect genuine forgiveness and reconciliation we can admit and grieve for our sins, pray for forgiveness, receive God’s remedy through Christ and thus turn from what harms us (and others) to live in humility, gratitude, and true hope of participating in God’s loving work of redemption. This is Good News indeed!

      Permission granted to place this preceding message in every church bulletin.

  2. Selena Smith says:

    May the Church continue to wander seeking her soul’s identity and heart’s desire who is God.

  3. Julian Malakar says:

    Even Jesus was tempted by devil in three tempting common moments of life, hunger, and bow down to illegal power for greed as well as testing of God’s love by misinterpreting truth with illusion from worldly knowledge according to Matthew 4: 1-11. May Almighty God help us and the Church understanding truth about present trouble world staying firm with words of God as Jesus Christ was successful to meet challenges presented to Him by master of the world the devil!

    1. Alfonso Camiwet says:

      Accepting that we are dust and will return to dust is a reminder of our humanity. That we are frail, imperfect and weak; we are sinners. But through His grace, mercy and pity; the human flesh can also rise to heights of service and perfection if only for more life to be enjoyed by many. Hence from misdeeds and error, we always repent and return to the Lord for forgiveness. Then rise with Him for clearer, cleaner, wiser acts of service celebrating life. Then as we go nearer to dust, we can proudly see and
      say, my Lord and my God.

  4. William A. Flint, PhD says:

    Now may the PB turn her attention to ISIS and tell us how we are to move forward with them? The ABC and the Pope have already stepped to the plate, but what about our liberal Episcopal Church? What say you? Did the radical Islamic extremest behead Egyptian citizens or Egyptian Christians? Both statements would be correct, but in this case they were murdered because of their Christian Faith, not their national status. The ABC and Pope said Christians martyrs – what does our PB say?

    Episcopalians deserve to hear from their PB, their Bishops and their Clergy on this issue. Where do we stand? Whether you have noticed or not, it is time to take a stand on this and several other issues confronting Christians in the society. There is a group here in America, the Church needs to confront, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group, that keeps taking Christian children and teenagers religious liberties away from them through legal intimidation. Shouldn’t we be standing with our kids to protect them from this intimidation.

    Dr. Franklin Graham is addressing all these issues, others are addressing all these issues. It is time for us (I THINK) to address all these issues. I hope other Episcopalians will express their views. How much do we value the Gospel of God and the message that Jesus is the only way to God? For us Jesus has come and for the Jews, Jesus is coming. Compromising God is not a good position to take. In seminary, I met many survivors of the Holocaust and their stern warning NEVER AGAIN. Looks like again is upon us.

    Reply

    1. William A. Flint, PhD says:

      Just a look at what The Freedom From Religion Foundation is doing. Where is the Church?
      A West Virginia middle school took down the crosses from a memorial to a beloved teacher, but is standing firm on the angels etched into the stone, despite an atheist group’s threat to sue on constitutional grounds.

  5. Richard McClellan says:

    I quit reading when Franklin Graham’s name was mentioned.

    1. William A. Flint, PhD says:

      Sorry to hear that, Dr. Graham does a lot of great work helping those in needs all over the world. I could have named others, but he was the one who came to my mind. The point being expressed is more important than anyone’s name.

  6. Julian Malakar says:

    Lent is perfect time to reflect where we stand firmly, in case we fall in a situation with a hanging sword over our head as we saw in the picture, 21 Egyptian Christians kneeling down at the sea shore in Libya and waiting for Jesus to come and pick their souls up in Paradise, as it had happened to St. Stephen in 1st century. It is sad to know that there was no message publicly from our PB to console Christians at this time of trial. Our consolation comes from words of God as it is written: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).

    Our heartfelt prayer remains for bereaved Christian families in Egypt to get strength from God and May their souls rest in peace with our Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven!

  7. David Hunn says:

    Thanks, you inspire.
    Our rector’s sermon Wednesday was a different twist on the cross on the forehead. Some accept the ashes to demonstrate their piety, like hypocrites; some accept it as a visible reminder of their own brokenness and need for reflection and redemption.
    Lent will be more interesting for me this year.

  8. Richard McClellan says:

    My parish’s Ash Wednesday service was predominantly filled with college age practicing Episcopalians. The worm will turn again someday folks. Be strong and wait on the LORD.

  9. Stewart David Wigdor says:

    My Ministry unknowing to me is to study cancer first from labs research first on breast and ovary with Mary, the Virgin Mary. From there I began to study the research of the cell cycle that governs all tissue types of cells that divide. That study found me the discovery labs on p 53 protein the protein that is mutated in 50% of all sufferring forms of cancer disease regardless of tissue type. Thus p 53 protein science is the most important research in modern cancer labs.. And after studying it I asked Mary and Jesus for the cure. Rdioactive cysteine is th cure of cancer I sent wrod to all major cancer institutes and many churches including our Primate Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Then i did something else I studied radiation and cysteine in healthy cells and tissue discovering that the sunshine is the major source of virtamin D and that a vitamn called PLP or vitamin B 6 is the co enzyme used to allow cysteine synthesis. These two vitamins actually prevent many many cancers and are the most prophylactic form of cancer medicine. Anyway it reveals the cure of cancer in healthy tissue is also the best way to prevent it. Now it up to the Love of God and genius of medical research to end this dragon forever. Let us pray cancer is off the earth this Easter.

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