Lent at St. Mary's

Sundays in Lent

+ 8:00 AM: Worship at St. Mary’s
+ 9:30-10:15 AM: Christian Formation at St. Mary’s and via Zoom
+ 10:30 AM: Worship at St. Mary’s and via Live Stream
+ 5:00 PM: Worship at St. Mary’s

Morning Prayer is offered Monday-Friday at 8:40 AM in the church. An informal group meets for Centering Prayer at 11:30 AM every Tuesday via Zoom. 
*Kids’ Word, Children’s Chapel, and nursery are available at all Sunday morning services.



St. Mary’s Lenten Lecture Series

Lord, Teach Us to Pray: Faithfully mustering our intimations toward the Holy.

St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands is delighted to invite you to join us each Sunday morning during the season of Lent as we join our voices with the request made by Jesus’s disciple in the eleventh chapter of Luke: “Lord, teach us to pray.”  This Lent, we will be joined by scholars hailing from the several Episcopal seminaries who will carry us along in our own faith journeys as we seek to better pray as Jesus taught.  Each week, our Lenten lecturers will encourage our lives of prayer through the lenses of holy scripture, Christian tradition, and contemplative practice.  Our guest lecturers will meet with us by Zoom starting at 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings; you can participate either by gathering together here at the church (in the beautifully renovated chapel) or by Zooming-in from home (Zoom credentials will be provided each week).  Please invite your friends to join in this great journey!




Lenten Lecture Series Zoom Information
Meeting ID: 852 0141 2974

Passcode: 553001




Please join us each Wednesday during Lent as we gather in the Chapel at 12:05 PM for a Public Service of Healing with Holy Eucharist.  These Wednesday services during Lent will include an invitation for those who wish to receive the laying on of hands and anointing.


During all gatherings face covering will be required and physical distancing practiced.




A Forty Day Journey

Lent is a season of the Church Year that calls Christians to focus on repentance and personal devotion in light of the coming celebration of Easter. The forty-day period of Lent connects with many Scriptural events important in the history of salvation: the forty days of the flood, the forty years of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, Moses’ forty days on Mount Sinai when he received the Law, and Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the desert.
     The season of Lent is decidedly somber. In the Church’s worship, a penitential tone is expressed in various ways, both liturgically and visually:

• Vestments are changed to purple, a color associated with mourning.
• Floral decorations are removed.
• The shout of praise “Alleluia” is eliminated from all acts of worship.
• The Eucharist begins with an acclamation that acknowledges our need for mercy. The Celebrant says, “Bless the Lord who forgiveth all our sins,” and the people respond, “His mercy endureth for ever.
• The Gloria (“Glory be to God on high”) is neither sung nor said, and the service music changes to more penitential settings.
• The Decalogue (The Ten Commandments, see The Book of Common Prayer, page 317) is read or sung at the beginning of Sunday Eucharists.
• The priest’s final blessing over the congregation is replaced with a solemn prayer focusing on the Lenten journey.



An Invitation to a Holy Lent

Ash Wednesday, (February 17) the day on which the faithful gather to receive ashes on their forehead as a sign of their repentance and mortality. In this service, the priest addresses the people, saying,


I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. (BCP, 265)


We see in this invitation that there are six specific ways in which Christians are called to deepen their devotion in this season:

  1. By self-examination. This means setting aside time to intentionally reflect upon one’s thoughts and actions, acknowledging the ways in which we fall short of God’s goodness and love.
  2. By repentance. To repent means to have “a change of heart” and to “turn around” from actions and attitudes contrary to God’s will. This means honestly confessing our sins to God and receiving his forgiveness.
  3. By prayer. This calls us to take part in the Church’s corporate acts of worship as well as the setting aside of time for personal prayer.
  4. By fasting. To fast is to abstain from certain foods or all food for a period of time. The reasons for fasting are listed later in this handbook.
  5. By self-denial. Denying oneself in Lent means giving up certain luxuries, even legitimate pleasures, in order to focus oneself spiritually.
  6. By reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. In Lent, believers are especially called to read and reflect on Scripture in a daily way.

     Lent puts into practice the words of Jesus: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (St. Matthew 16:24) Lent is a time for cultivating spiritual disciplines—whether giving something up or taking something on—that foster spiritual growth.

     This growth happens through corporate activities at church as well as personal commitments at home. The purpose of this page is to help you and your family choose Lenten disciplines that will make these forty days a purposeful and meaningful season. The goal is that by the time Easter arrives, you will have grown in your knowledge and love of Christ and your identity in him.



Personal Disciplines in Lent


Lent is the perfect time to renew one’s commitment to prayer. Whether you choose the formal structure of Morning Prayer or more open-ended approaches like contemplative prayer, we encourage everyone to find some practice to commit to during Lent. If you need a place to start, open a Prayer Book to page 136 and see “Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families.”



Consider a daily routine of reading Scripture, even if it is just for ten minutes a day. You could read the daily office readings (beginning on page 952 of the BCP; 2021 is Year One in the two year cycle). Or you could work your way through a book of the Bible, such as the Gospel of John. Put yourself into the shoes of those who first heard the Word of the Lord. What is Christ saying to you?



Fasting is a spiritual discipline in which one refrains from eating some or all foods for a specific period of time. As a fast one might reduce portions at every meal, eliminate a daily meal, or refrain from eating altogether. The duration and details of a fast are always between God and the individual, perhaps with the input of a spiritual director. In the Prayer Book, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are appointed as Fasts for the whole Church. (BCP 17)

     Fasting has played an important role in the lives of God’s people throughout history. References abound in the Old Testament: fasting for repentance (1 Kings 21:27–29; Joel 1:14–16; 2:12–16; Daniel 9:3–6); for guidance (Ezra 8:21–23); in trouble (Esther 4:15–17). In the New Testament, Jesus himself is our model as he fasted in the wilderness before taking on his public ministry and as he endured his Passion (his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion) without food and drink. Jesus commended fasting to his disciples, saying, “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.” (St. Matthew 6:16) His words presume that his disciples will fast, while also avoiding the showy self-righteousness of the hypocrites.

     Reasons for fasting are many: a conscious uniting oneself to Christ’s self-denying life; humbling oneself before God and acknowledging one’s sins;  clearing the mind and body to focus on prayer. Fasting is rooted in the idea that there is a human need as real as physical nourishment: Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (St. Matthew 4:4)

     Abstinence differs from fasting. Abstinence involves the elimination of a particular food, beverage, or activity throughout the entire season, often something of a “luxury” nature. Abstaining from meat, sweets, coffee, or alcohol are common Lenten practices. Some give up television, games, or social networking for the Forty Days. Others make a deliberate effort to abstain from negative attitudes such as fear, worry, or criticizing others.

     Fasting and abstinence are relaxed on Sundays during Lent. Sundown Saturday until sundown Sunday is always a celebration, a Feast, of Jesus’ Resurrection, and therefore Lenten disciplines are supposed to be put on hold. (According to the ancient reckoning of time, a day begins at sunset; thus, feasts and fasts are kept from sundown to sundown.)



Making one’s confession—the exercise of honestly facing one’s sins and speaking them aloud before a priest—is therapeutic. In the Episcopal Church, reconciliation with a priest is not something we “have to do” to be forgiven, but rather a healing experience we can receive because we are forgiven by Jesus who died for it all. The clergy of the parish can be contacted to hear confessions by appointment.  



A Final Word and Resources

We have described just a few ways in which you can grow into the love and likeness of Christ this Lent. In the end, the options are vast and they are between you and God alone. We offer the following planning guide to assist you in getting the most out of Lent.

     May Christ our crucified and risen Lord bless you richly as you journey with him to the cross, and finally to the empty tomb of Easter Morning!



St. Mary’s offers the guide below which has suggestions for Lenten disciplines.







The information on the Examen is found on page 10 in the link below.




Anglican Prayer Beads Available Now!

This Lent, many among us will engage in a form of liturgical meditative prayer each day as a means by which to, in the silence of our minds and hearts, converse with the Holy.  Anglican Prayer Beads are a tactile means through which some may wish to order those prayers.  Please pick up your own set of prayer beads in the Chapel throughout the weeks ahead.




Spiritual Direction is the Christian practice where one person seeks spiritual guidance and support from a trained and gifted listener. While we always have spiritual directors available, we have enlisted several more during the season of Lent. This is a wonderful opportunity to expand your personal spirituality and deepen your relationship with God. If you would like to meet with a spiritual director, please contact Cindy Wiley at or 205-774-2442.







Ash Wednesday:

Ash Wednesday takes its name from the Old Testament custom of placing ashes on the forehead as a sign of repentance and an acknowledgement of our mortality. God said to Adam after the Fall, “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) The priest uses these words on Ash Wednesday to remind us that “the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a) At the same time, ashes are imposed on the forehead in the shape of a cross, reminding us that “….the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b)


The Ash Wednesday liturgies at St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands are scheduled as follows:

+ 7:30 AM: Prayers and Imposition of Ashes
+ 12:05 PM: Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist (sign up required/limited to 60 worshippers).
+ 1:30 PM until 4:30 PM: Church will be open for personal prayers and a clergy person will be available to impose ashes as requested. This timeframe is being made available to those who do not attend corporate worship, but desire ashes.
+ 5:30 PM: Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist (sign up required/limited to 60 worshippers).


During all gatherings face covering will be required and physical distancing practiced. An alternative to receiving ashes on one’s forehead will also be offered.