Ash Wednesday-Deacon Barclay

Ash Wednesday


March 6th, 2019

Deacon Blaine Barclay

Lent is a matter of the heart. From our first reading from the prophet Joel. Hear God’s appeal to you and me. ‘Return to me with your whole heart’ And, ‘Rend your hearts and not your garments’.  Also, from Psalm 51, the great psalm of lament, of repentance. ‘A clean heart create for me, O God.’ There is a song by The Monks of Weston Priory that has always been close to my heart, that comes back to me from time to time, the way songs do. The song is called ‘Hosea’ because its lyrics are taken from the prophet Hosea. It goes: ‘Come back to me with all your heart. Don’t let fear keep us apart…Long have I waited for your coming home to me and living deeply our new life’. It’s about how much God is longing for relationship and intimacy with us. This is also why Lent is a matter of the heart. ‘Return to me with your whole heart’, says Joel. Not just ‘take another little piece of my heart’, as another song goes, but our whole heart. And how does the heart become whole, except by return. We return, we repent because we are not whole, because our hearts have been scattered, dissipated, fragmented. And we long for wholeness, the integrity of the heart. To recollect (re-collect) our capacity to live life from the heart. And what is the heart? In Hebrew the word for heart is LEV, it means the very centre of a person, both their capacity to know and their capacity to love, the whole person, the animating principle of their whole being, flesh and spirit. In Hebrew, we ‘know’ with the heart, and we ‘love’ with the heart. As Pascal says, ‘The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of’.  ‘Return to me with your whole heart’. And again, later from Joel, ‘Rend your hearts and not your garments’.  Other translations say, ‘tear your hearts and not your clothing’. And, ‘Let your broken heart show your sorrow’. One paraphrase says, ‘Change your life, not just your clothes’. In the Jewish tradition to tear open ones’ outer garments was a sigh of extreme emotion, sorrow, remorse, grief, anger. It is more important to break open our hearts. Elsewhere, the prophet Ezekiel says, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.’ You cannot tear or break open a heart of stone. But a heart of flesh can be broken, vulnerable, pierced like the heart of Jesus on the Cross. But how can I break open my heart for God and for the other? Joel calls for, ‘fasting, weeping, mourning’, Return, Return. Our culture says, ‘Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken.’ The season of Lent says, ‘give me a broken heart, a heart that has room for God and the other’. To quote Leonard Cohen, ‘There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’ A broken and contrite heart is a heart that is turning, re-turning to the Lord. Returning for re-tuning. As our psalm says, ‘A clean heart create for me, O God.’ Because only the pure in heart can see God, can see the invisible, by living it. With simplicity of heart, and simplicity of vision, not wanting to be seen, not blowing our own horn, hidden, giving from the heart, ‘your left hand not knowing what your right hand Is doing’. Practicing, from the heart, the traditional disciplines of Lent, going right back to the teaching of Jesus. Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting. Not as an outward show, so as to draw attention to ourselves and our own efforts. But almsgiving from the heart, generous, genuine, generosity. Prayer from the heart, thick with interiority, not just exterior acts of piety. Fasting/abstinence from the heart, born of our desire for God, and Gods prior initiative in our lives, practicing a readiness for God’s activity in our lives. Almsgiving, Prayer, and Fasting, all hidden, in the secret of the heart. This is our Lenten path to becoming ‘Ambassadors for Christ’. Appealing to others by who we are, ‘Be reconciled to God’.

The Chief medical Health Officer of Kingston has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
Please read and observe the six key principles outlined below.

1) The key principle is that we come to Mass to worship God. Out of justice and exercising the virtue of religion we must give God what is God’s due. That quite simply is worship, adoration and praise. Thus, the absolute essentials of Mass will be included so that the Sacramental praise of God will take place and we will be exposed to one another for as brief a time as possible.

2) The second key principle is that the health and safety of parishioners, staff and clergy here at St. Mary’s are essential and require our utmost concern and attention. Therefore, the dispensation from the obligation to come to Sunday Mass by Archbishop Mulhall continues to be in effect. Those who are sick, elderly or have other critical health concerns should not come at this time. However, that is left to your discretion. Should you make the choice to come, knowing the risks, you are most welcome.

3) The underlying principle of all of our restrictions in isolating, physically distancing, wearing masks etc. is the common good as we live out the Lord’s commission to “love one another.” We are to care for each other and at this time we are called to be as prudent and careful as we can to protect the health of everyone else and ourselves.
4) The principle for the next few weeks will be brevity. The received scientific wisdom is that the virus spreads within groups who spend a prolonged period of time together. Therefore, we will be reducing the Mass to the bare essentials.
5) Singing is considered more dangerous than speaking so you are asked to please not sing at all throughout the Mass. I will not be singing either.
6) If you have any sickness, are elderly or have a critical illness you should remain at home. The dispensation from the obligation to come to Mass continues through this time of 30% capacity. Of course, if you choose to come you will not be turned away. We will continue to live- stream the Masses until we are back to a more normal arrangement.

The Chief medical Health Officer has ordered that Masks must be worn at all places we gather indoors. That includes us here at the cathedral. We can’t supply everyone with a mask so please come with one. We would have a limited supply available for a loonie at the entrance of the cathedral.
We will pray a shorter Penitential Rite.
The Gloria will be said not sung. There is to be no singing by the congregation during the Mass. Only by a cantor or as we have today a physically distanced choir in the choir loft…3 metres apart.
We will only have one reading followed by the Psalm
The second reading will be omitted.
The choir will sing the Alleluia on Sundays. During the week it will be omitted. Please do not join in.
The Gospel.
A very brief (3-4 minute) homily will follow.
The Creed will not be prayed.
There will be no petitions. Please prepare your own petitions and offer them in your heart during the Mass.
There will be no procession of the gifts.
There will be no regular collections at this time in the Masses. It will happen later. Ushers will be at the doors to receive your offering as you leave.
The Eucharistic Prayer will be prayed. This is the Most Important Part of the Mass.
The Our Father
Sign of Peace. This is a time when we won’t shake hands. Please do not wave to each other or give the two finger sign of peace. Neither of these reflect what is the intention here…You are recognizing the presence of God in the other person and praying they know God’s peace. The most appropriate gesture is a slight bow or nod of the head to the other person. You have seen me do this at the sign of peace to all of you at every Sunday Liturgy.
Please be seated.
Then the ushers will direct you to the place where you will receive Holy Communion. Please do not leave your pew until an usher has indicated you should do so.
Another usher will be close to the Communion Station to receive your Sunday Offering.
When it is your turn to receive Holy Communion. You will stand 6 feet away on the red line. The person distributing Holy Communion will say “The Body of Christ”. You will say “Amen”. Then move forward within arms length and receive the Host. Once you have received go straight out the nearest exit and make your Thanksgiving on your way home.
Aisles 1 & 5 will come forward to receive Holy Communion and leave by the side doors.
Aisles 2, 3 & 4 will go to the back to receive Holy Communion.
Aisle 2 will exit by the exit closest to the rectory.
Aisle 3 will exit out the centre door which you came in
Aisle 4 will exit out the door by the washrooms.
You are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. Receiving on the tongue endangers the person giving Holy Communion and yourself, the person receiving Holy Communion. If you wish to insist on receiving on the tongue please wait until the very end as the person giving Holy Communion should sanitize their hands after each communicant. The usher will pass you by and will come back to you after everyone else has received. Please don’t leave your pew until that has taken place.