The Sundays of Pre-Lent

Preparing for Easter

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (this year this is on February 22).  Lent is a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter, when we celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the grave.

Before we get to Lent we observe the "Pre-Lenten" season, consisting of 3 Sundays each of which has a strange sounding Latin name.  This past Sunday (Feb 20) was Septuagesima, next Sunday (Feb 27) is Sexagesima and the final Sunday in the pre-lenten season is Quinquagesima (March 6).  These Sundays are so named to indicate the (approximate) number of days left before Easter - 70, 60 and 50 respectively.  (On Ash Wednesday there are 40 left until Easter, not including Sundays).

Each of the Pre-Lenten Sundays has a different emphasis (the following is taken from a very helpful note written by Bishop Paul Hewett):

Septuagesima Sunday:  by God’s grace we are called to work with Him in His vineyard, to live with Him in His Kingdom, to run the race, on His team. 

Sexagesima Sunday:  the harvest of the vineyard, the rewards of the Kingdom, are assured.  Our labor is not in vain, we are not wasting our time.  

Quinquagesima Sunday: the fruits of our work in the Kingdom are to grow in our capacity to love God, and our neighbor, in God.


Candlemas - Feb 2nd

The following is from an unpublished reflection by the late Dr. Peter Toon:

The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

commonly called The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary - February 2.

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty, that, as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in the substance of our flesh, so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 For the Epistle: Malachi 3.1-5                   The Gospel:  St Luke 2:22-40.

 Jesus was presented in the Jerusalem Temple at the age of forty days, according to the requirement of the Law of Moses for a first-born male child. There he was greeted by both Simeon and Anna and thus there was a meeting of the five – these two, Mary, Joseph & Jesus.

 From the fourth century, this event has been commemorated in the Church by a festival which was first simply called in Greek, Hypapante (the Meeting). Later in the Latin West it has been called “The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” and “The Presentation of Christ in the Temple.”  The word, “Candlemas” is a northern European name for the festival because there had long been a procession with lighted candles at the mass on this day.

 The Gospel reading describes the bringing of Jesus by Mary and Joseph to the Temple and their offering of a sacrifice as required by the Law after the birth of a first-born son (Leviticus 12:8; Luke 2:24; Exodus 13:2,15).  It continues by presenting Simeon, a devout Jew, who was waiting to see the Messiah of his people. On seeing Jesus, he knew that he was looking at the Messiah and so taking him in his arms, he praised God and uttered the prayer we now call Nunc dimittis. Then Simeon turned to bless Mary and Joseph and prophesied concerning the messianic vocation and work of Jesus. This small group was then joined by Anna, a godly widow, who also was waiting for the advent of the Messiah. After she had seen Jesus and also recognized him as the Messiah, she thanked God and spoke of him as the Messiah to many people.

 The Epistle reading from the prophecy of Malachi speaks of the Messiah coming to the Temple of the Lord to purge and to save: “The Lord whom you [Simeon & Anna] seek shall suddenly come to his temple…”

 The reason why there has been a profuse use of candles in the keeping of this festival over the centuries is simple. It is to proclaim by visible sign the words uttered by Simeon concerning Jesus, “a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.”

 The Collect in The Book of Common Prayer (1662 & 1928) is ancient and comes from the Latin through the history of the Western Church into English for the English Prayer Book of the sixteenth century. True to the original intention of the Feast, the whole emphasis in this prayer is upon Jesus, who was the center of attention in the Temple on his fortieth day. It is the commemoration of the first appearance of the Lord of the temple in the temple, that temple which he came to love, from where in his boyhood he found it so difficult to tear himself away, and the very temple that he honoured so highly as to cleanse twice during his ministry (John 2:13-18 & Matthew 21:12-13).

 Of course, Mary, his mother, is there in the background, for after all she had given birth to the Messiah and, as a faithful Jewess, she had to offer sacrifice for her own ritual purification after giving birth to her first-born son. This is why in the West the feast has been also named for her.


Lent 2012 - Fellowship

Please join us for light refreshments, followed by an informal discussion led by Fr. Patterson in which we will explore St. Matthew's account of Jesus' final hours leading up to the Crucifixion.

Childcare provided (with advanced notice).

Kindly RSVP to or 215-884-7660.

Click here to print a flyer.

Topics for The Story of the Cross:

February 8 -  Bestowal and Betrayal (Matt 26:1-25)

February 15 - This Cup (Matt 26:26-46)

February 29 - Prophesy to us, you Christ! (Matt 26:47-68)

March 14 - This Man or Barabbas? (Matt 27:11-31)

March 21 - My God, My God, Why Hast
Thou Forsaken Me? (Matt 27:32-66)

March 28 - His is Risen as He Said (Matt 28:1-20)


The Real St. Nicholas

His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man.
Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church.
The Feast Day of St. Nicholas was yesterday (December 6th).





Christ the King

Some things that you might be interested to know about this Sunday (November 20):

  • This is the last Sunday of the Church year (the Church year begins again on the First Sunday of Advent – Novemer 27th.  Advent is the approximately 40 day period leading up to Christmas).
  • This Sunday is sometimes called "Stir Up Sunday" because the collect reads "Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."
  • The celebration of the Feast of Christ the King is relatively recent, being officially added to the Church calendar only in 1925.  Some churches celebrate Christ the King on the last Sunday in October, others on the last Sunday before Advent.
  • The collect for Christ the King is: Almighty and everlasting God, who has exalted your beloved Son to be King over all, and has willed in him to make all things new: mercifully grant that all the people of the earth who are wounded and dispersed by sin, may speedily be knit together under his gracious sovereignty.
  • The Lessons are: Jeremiah 23:5-8 and St. John 6:5-14

The image above has some wonderful symbolism: Jesus is reigning from the Cross (which is budding, symbolizing the life giving power of Christ's death and resurrection) and he is dressed in priestly garments (He is the great High Priest who lives to make intercession for us).  On His head He wears a crown, for He is seated upon the throne in Heaven, from which He reigns at the Father's right hand.  His feet and hands bear the nail marks - for He lives as the Incarnate One, having truly died He now lives in glory.