Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A plea to my fellow clergy on Ash Wednesday

Dear brothers, I know that the altar Missal, used by so many Continuing Anglicans, has many blessings of the ashes, and for many it seems like the way to start the service (though I simply cannot say, "We who here make atonement..." No we don't! Even the RCs don't translate the Latin that way. Christ made the One and Only Atonement). Well, bless the ashes as many times as you want, though I think once is enough, and doesn't tire out your congregation. That's just my opinion.

But, whatever you do or don't do, for Heaven's sake use A PENITENTIAL OFFICE FOR ASH WEDNESDAY. In the American Book of Common Prayer it begins on page 60. It actually gives the congregation a way to pray that is designed for just this very day. They get to join in and pray, and enter into the spirit of Lent, something that helps meet their true need.

Well there you have my two cents worth; a radical idea indeed, actually using the Book of Common Prayer and letting the people pray along. Try it, you'll like it.


Donald said...

Dear Fr. Hart,

I wouldn't do Ash Wednesday without the Penitential Office! And thanks for the advice concerning the blessing of the ashes - it makes sense - one prayer should be enough. God's blessings!


Fr. Isaac said...

This was my first Ash Wednesday serving at an Anglo-Catholic parish (I was hired only a couple of months ago). I was very impressed with how our rector (Fr. Chip Harper) organized it. He led the congregation is chanting the Litany from the American BCP. Then the Deacon and I led the congregation in chanting the Penitential Office (using chant tones from St. Dunstan's Psalter for Psalm 51 and collect tones from the same for the other prayers). Fr. Chip then used the blessing of the ashes and the imposition form from A Manual for Priests. It was a beautiful service. I was especially impressed with how the congregation was able to follow the chants, despite only having access to the BCP (instead of music). They'd never chanted the Penitential Office before, from what I'm told.

Thank you for being a voice of fidelity to the Prayer Book and the Scriptures, Fr. Hart!


Laurence K. Wells+ said...

The current edition of the Manual for priests (sold by our Athens office) contains a greatly stream-lined form for the Blessing of Ashes, which if memory serves, excised the appalling words. LKW