This is a revised edition of Living Lent first published in 1992. In making this revision I have included the daily readings for Lent and the Sundays that were lacking in the original edition. As Catholic Christians become more aware of the importance of Scripture in their lives, I want to encourage them to read the sacred pages and discover how relevant they are for our daily living.
Thus this book is designed for living out our Catholic Faith. It is essential to understand there should be no separation between the holy and the human as divinity and humanity are one through Christ. Hence for each day of Lent an aspect of living the Christian life is presented. Lent ends on Holy Thursday morning to give way to the Triduum. This is the most important time of the whole Christian Year when the Church in three acts of liturgy re-enact the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
The meditation for each day ends with a short prayer. I encourage you to use this as a guide for making your own. Spontaneous prayer is a way of growing in the life of the Holy Spirit. At first you may feel clumsy, but it becomes easier with practice.
In writing this revised edition I am still conscious of what I owe to so many for teaching me through word and example what is the Christian faith and how it must be lived out. Shortly after becoming a practicing Christian in my mid-teens I began attending Christ Church St. Laurence in Sydney, Australia. How fortunate I was to be taught the Catholic Faith by Father John Hope, the rector. He certainly planted the seeds, which have been watered my many ever since.
The first edition of this book was written shortly after coming to Oxford in the late 1980’s. Here too I was blessed by the ministry of various priests. Three come to mind readily: Dr. Rowan Williams who was then Lady Margaret Professor and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford and now archbishop of Canterbury. He encouraged me to write amongst other things. Canon Donald Allchin who was then Director of the St. Theosevia Centre, Oxford, and now Professor Emeritus of Church History at Bangor; and Dr. Jeffrey John who was then Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford, and now Dean at St. Alban’s Abbey.
I am indeed grateful to the past President of Magdalen College, Oxford, Mr. A. Smith, and Dr. J. Gregg of the Physics Department of the same college, who made it possible for me to use as the cover a reproduction of Christ Bearing the Cross, attributed to the seventeenth-century Spanish painter Valdes Leal. Since 1745 this painting has hung above the altar in the chapel after it was presented to the College by William Freeman of Hamels in Hertfordshire, a former gentleman commoner of Magdalen College.
Previously this painting had a rather adventurous history. It was amongst the treasures looted by James Butler, Duke of Ormonde in 1702 when the English fleet under Admiral Sir George Rooke entered the harbour of Vigo, Spain on 12th October 1702 and seized the Spanish treasure galleons. Sometime after it fell into the hands of Walter Freeman.
I am particularly grateful to be able to have this painting for the cover, not only because it was a source of meditation for me over the years I attended Mass in Magdalen College, but also because the carrying of the cross is the core of the Christian life. I trust that the inclusion of Leal's painting will in itself be a source of deep reflection during this Lent.
The basic text for quotations from the Bible is the Authorized Version while the psalms are from the Prayer Book with slight changes to modernize archaic words.
Have a wonderful Lent, Triduum and a joyful Easter.