NEWSLETTER January 2017
FEBRUARY SERVICES at St Michael and All Angels
Sunday 5 February
Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple (Candlemas)
Also the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, Colour: White, Intent: Steadfastness and Diligence
Sunday 19 February
Sexagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The Holy Spirit as sanctifier
Sundays with NO SERVICE at St Michael’s:
Sunday 12 February
Septuagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The gift of wisdom
Special note: Monday 13 February is the 101th anniversary of the founding of the Liberal Catholic Church
Sunday 26 February
Quinquagesima, Colour: Red, Intent: The Holy Spirit as the fire of love
The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, or Candlemas, follows the Festival of the Transfiguration, celebrated on the fifth Sunday of January. This “presentation” is symbolically re-enacted at Candlemas to signify the mystical presentation of the transfigured Jesus to God the Father.
The pre-Lenten Season
The pre-Lenten traditional Carnival season, also called Shrovetide, falls in the last three weeks in February this year. The usual preparation periods such as Advent and Lent have the colour violet, but this period has a different tone, being one of pre-Lenten “carnival”, and the colour is red. The red signifies that we are invoking the Holy Spirit during this time.
The pre-Lenten period starts on Septuagesima, which is 70 days to the end of the Easter festival season, the ninth Sunday before Easter and the third Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the 3rd March. Sexagesima (60 days) and Quinquagesima (50 days) follow in the same pattern. The pre-Lenten period concludes on Shrove Tuesday, which is traditionally the day of Mardi Gras (from the French “fat Tuesday”) and is the day before Ash Wednesday when the Lenten fast begins.
Celebrations and Preparations
It is worth noting that a Carnival season is a practical opportunity for bringing the community together. In the northern hemisphere Carnival brings people “out of their houses” after a long cold winter spent mostly indoors, and allows a measure of frivolity prior to the next preparation cycle which starts on Ash Wednesday. To assist with the process of bonding in the community, the wearing of masks and costumes in some Carnival festivities allow people to hide their everyday identities and mix freely in the community.
Carnival in Venice Carnival in Rio
The pre-Lenten carnival celebration season need not be thought of as complete abandonment of all moral boundaries; rather it is an opportunity for people to experience companionship with friends and strangers alike behind their disguises and, most importantly, an opportunity to experience what it was like to be a different person.
From Christmas through to the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, we celebrate three very significant personal growth events for Jesus, sometimes called initiations. The first is Christmas (the establishment of a firm base); the second is Baptism (an expansion of the intellect); and the third is the Transfiguration (establishment of close contact with the spirit within).
After his Baptism Jesus spent a period in the desert in isolation where, as recorded in the Gospels, he was confronted by the Devil offering Him a series of temptations. These he successfully worked through and overcame. We might imagine Him returning after his period in the desert, where He had integrated the enormous change of awareness brought about in Him by the initiation of Baptism. In spite of the very significant internal growth he had experienced, as he still looked the same externally He would naturally have been treated by the people with whom He lived as if nothing had changed.
We can learn from, or perhaps we have even taken part in, the experience of being in disguise or being dressed up as actors on the stage where, although people may recognise us, they accept a radical change in behaviour during the time we are playing that part. In these circumstances we have the experience of being a changed person simply by changing our outward appearance. We experience what it is like to change internally, an experience that is significant and real. In a similar way, this is what we are looking for as we pursue our own internal spiritual path.
.In Jesus the change is internal and is brought about by a structured initiation. In the “dress-up” or carnival situation we can experience the loosening of our previous limitations because the people around us allow us to try out different behaviour patterns as a result of our having an altered outward appearance. Compared to a spiritual initiation and the structured growth it enables, the feeling of expanded possibilities that we experience by a change of clothes and masks is severely limited, but it is still an experience that reminds us that internal change is possible for the individual.
Visit to the church of St Francis and St Alban in Gordon, NSW
On Sunday 29 January I celebrated the Festival of the Transfiguration at St Francis in Gordon. Else and I were very happy to enjoy the hospitality of the clergy and parishioners of St Francis and, in spite of the organ not operating, we all enjoyed the impromptu four-part a cappella sung service. How fortunate St Francis are to have such talented singers. Once again we were struck by the beauty of the church and the magnificent stained glass windows, almost all of which were designed and made by the Very Reverend Ron Rivett. Our thanks to all for a lovely lunch after the service.
Bp Richard and Deaconess Robyn Puhlmann Our Lady Altar at St Francis