updated March 31, 2020
LENT AT ST. PAT’S
Due to COVID-19 Corona Virus and edicts from Bishop Thomas Brown and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, our experience with in person worship is changing. CDC guidelines have recommended no in person meetings.
Read Cross Words – Special Edition- March 25, 2020
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Letters to St. Patrick’s: During the five Sundays of Lent, the second lesson will be read as a letter to St. Patrick’s from one of our neighbors and will highlight the various ways that the “least of these” and Christ are crucified in our modern world. These letters will then be nailed to a piece of wood and hung on the wall as one of the stations of the cross.
On March 1, 2020, the children passed out bags with weekly devotional materials for the five weeks of Lent, one per family. Be sure to go home with one.
As in the words of Brother Roger, founder of the Taize community:
“From the depths of the human condition a secret aspiration rises up. Caught in the anonymous rhythms of schedules and timetables, men and women of today are implicitly thirsting for an essential reality, for an inner life. Nothing is more conducive to a communion with the living God than a meditative common prayer with…singing that never ends and that continues in the silence of one’s heart when one is alone again.”
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), CDC guidelines have recommended no in person meetings. Therefore, the remaining Wednesday Lenten Services have been canceled.
Lenten Frontal With Five Stations
This year we are trying something new at St. Pat’s for Lent. Instead of following the traditional practice of using the color purple to denote the penitential season, we are highlighting a more earthy approach. The beginning of this journey was based in a decision to use a more textural material, a material that speaks of roughness and discomfort, burlap. Historically, purple has been associated with royalty because, before the advent of synthetic dyes, it was one of the most difficult and expensive colors to produce. As such it was often associated with luxury, being used to dye velvets and silks. Burlap can be seen to connect more directly with Lent as a season of self-denial and penitence. It is the kind of material from which a hair shirt, a garment historically worn by penitents, might be made.
Burlap has a number of interesting characteristics. It is a loosely woven fabric which means that the edges can be easily frayed to create a fringe. With this in mind I began thinking about how this might inform the design of the frontal. Two images seemed particularly pertinent to Lent. One was the idea of being broken open and the other was the image of being wounded. These related images both spoke to me of going beneath the surface to find what lies buried, whether it be old injuries, which need mending, or unexpected treasure, which can be shared with the community. As I thought about what would be exposed by the wounds in the frontal, I realized that there should be a contrast. I kept the color somewhat close to the burlap, creating contrast mostly in the textures. I then chose to add small touches of more vibrant or darker colors to the edges of the wounds.
Another aspect of burlap is that, since it is so loosely woven, it is somewhat transparent. To further enhance the idea of woundedness I decided to add veins and arteries under the surface. These are sometimes exposed in the wounds but are mostly subtle linear features which can just be made out.
The final feature of the surface is the inclusion of “patches”. Some of these are pristine, but some have been distorted by stretching and compressing the weave of the burlap. These act as kind of bruises which further expose what lies beneath the surface and suggest a connection to the body.
There are five discreet wounds on the frontal. These mirror the five wounds Christ received on the cross or the five wounds of the stigmata.
The five stations began with the desire to re-
imagine the traditional series of 14 images, based on scripture and tradition, in a way that connected them to the lived experiences of people in the church. Since the stations represent a journey to the cross, I began to wonder what things in our modern society need to be brought to the cross. In looking at the life of the people of this parish it was clear that issues concerning social justice should be considered. In conversation with others, the idea of physically nailing these concerns to the cross came forward. The stations were transformed into modern day crosses, using pieces of trees to make that connection. The narrative element of each station, written on paper. The stations were reduced to five in number to accommodate the five Sundays of Lent excluding Palm Sunday. The idea was that during each of these services one of the readings would be a story shared by a parishioner around their experiences in dealing with things like food insecurity, homelessness, or addiction. The materials remained rough, using a bare wooden frame to support each modern cross and its background of frayed burlap. A very rough twine was used to attach the branches to the frame, and the whole thing was glued together so it would be easy to move during the service and sturdy enough to withstand the hammering.
The stations inspired one final touch to the frontal, the distressed cross. Once the frontal was together it became clear that it needed some sort of focal point. The branches that became the cross had been standing out from the rest of the branches I had gathered, and they ended up fitting together beautifully. That cross speaks of the historic cross of Christ. The wood is older than the branches used for the stations, having lost its bark and being distressed. The branches in the stations speak of the modern crosses we bear. The branches were culled from a living tree last fall and still retain their bark. The distressed cross is the only element included that refers to traditional Lenten iconography. It offers a familiar point of reference through which parishioners may enter this unexpected exploration of Lenten themes.
Feel free to examine the altar frontal and the
five stations of the cross more closely.
Take your time as you experience your own Lenten Journey.