Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Education for Ministry (EfM)

Education for Ministry (EFM) is an opportunity to expose oneself to the great treasure trove of riches bequeathed by generations of believers that makes up the Christian tradition and to understand which pieces speak most directly to the purposes of one’s own life.
The four year curriculum, to which members commit one year at a time, covers a close reading of Old and New Testaments, a history of world-wide Christianity, and a consideration of contemporary ethics, interfaith dialogue, and theology. Integrated into the academic coverage of tradition, there are exercises in theological reflection, spiritual autobiography, prayer life, systematic theology, and ministry.

EFM at the Cathedral:

The community is a small group (12 participants maximum and 2 trained mentors) who meet every other Saturday morning from mid September though early June, 9:30 to 1:15 pm in the Cathedral Centre. This past year we had people from every decade of life between 20 and 60.
There are lively discussions of each year of study within the group as a whole, as well as theological reflection, worship, and contemporary ethics.

Curriculum and Sponsorship:

  • Texts selected or developed by the Faculty of Divinity of the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and EFM Canada.
  • EFM is fully supported by Dean Andrew Asbil and the clergy of St. James Cathedral.
  • EFM program sponsored by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and supported by all local area bishops
  • Recognized as training for all Christians as well as for lay leaders and those seeking ordination to the diaconate

Fees and Registration:

  • Annual fees: $350 plus texts books, about another $50.
  • Bursaries: $100 bursaries can be applied for, in cases of financial need
  • Registration: contact Carol Kysela ( to discuss whether EFM is
    right for you.
For more information see the EFM Canada website.

EfM Student Experiences


As someone fortunate enough to have been  part of both the Cathedral and Convent group, I would give this course a five star rating.  I grew up in a Jewish family and formally converted to Christianity in my early forties.  I had heard many of the stories in the Old Testament but had never really thought about them until I took a comparative religion course in University.  I knew nothing about the New Testament except that there was a man called Jesus who many claimed was the Messiah.  I became part of my husband's congregation and attended some bible study sessions; however, I had too many questions that really needed a more in depth examination.  I first heard about EfM from Sister Sue Elwyn at the Convent of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto and I signed up immediately.  One of the first things that we were required to do was a Spiritual Biography (something that we did every year thereafter) and, believe me, I was elated to find out that I was not the only person who did not grow up as an Anglican and that my fellow students were not all experts in quoting Scripture.  I agonized about starting yet another degree at the age of 65 and whether I could read the amount of material required as I have a visual disability.  I thank God for the person who invented the Kindle and for Amazon that provided me with at least 90% of my books which I could read by enlarging the text.  I absolutely loved studying the Old Testament during first year.  I proudly could tell my family that I was reading Torah -- it was like being at the Yeshiva.  In addition to learning how to read Scripture, I was so fortunate to have a great mentor, Carol Kysela, who taught me how to thing theologically about what was happening around me (Theological Reflection).  I must add that EfM is what you make it -- it is up to you how you want to study and apply what you have learned to your life.  During second year, when a large part of the material had to do with St. Paul, I wrote reply letters to him discussing what he had written.  My favourite year was Year Three because my knowledge of the History of Christianity had been garnered from terrible movies that I had seen over the years.  The textbook my Dermid McCullough was fantastic and the discussions in our group were intriguing.  It amazed me how the contributions by students in all four years could come together on one topic, even though they were concentrating on different areas of study.  Theological reflection continued to amaze me as I had now begun to formulate my own Ministry.  By fourth year, my areas of ministry to the marginalized community had been solidified and I knew which path God had directed me to.  The bond among my fellow students has endured over the years and I am proud to say that I have a different perspective of the world thanks to EfM.
Sue Ann Elite, Oblate, SSJD


This ad is an excellent description of the EFM programme. EFM is certainly not for everyone, but it IS for people who take their Christian faith seriously and want to mature and grow in their understanding. Prospective students who are outside the Diocese of Toronto can check with their diocese or the EFM national office (link above) to see if there is a class near them. On-line classes are also available.
 Gail Holland, 4th year student,
St. Matthews, Oshawa


My husband, James, recommended that I take EfM in 2006.  He took the course in McDonough, Georgia and told me that I will learn so much more.  He was right!  The best part was the theological reflection discussions and that everyone had a voice that was heard and listened to.

Edith Reese, EfM Graduate 2010


I started EfM at the urging of Sister Sue--she is a hard person to say "no" to.  As I was already Chaplain to the Ladies Auxiliary at the Legion, I thought it would be good training.  It was very interesting listening to each of the participants every week presenting what they had read and their take on it.  Also, it was good to discuss and relearn the precepts of our faith and the Bible stories I grew up on.  The friendships and fellowship was wonderful.  I hope to keep those friends for the rest of my life hee in the material world.  Thank you, EfM.

Janet Kaminskym EfM Graduate 2009

If you wish to have your comments added, please email them in Word to

Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Definition of ORDO
a list of offices and feasts of the  Church for each day of the year

Some Resources for Daily Readings, collects and biographical information

For All the Saints
A resource to accompany the Calendar of Holy Persons in the BAS. It includes propers for memorials, commemorations, and saints’ days, along with biographical information and primary source readings.
Download the PDF HERE

Holy Women, Holy Men

The liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church of the USA
Download the PDF HERE

The Lectionary Page
Lesser Feasts and Fasts, and additions from a Great Cloud of Witnesses 
Calendar with links to the Collects and Readings for each day.
Find the website HERE

Download SSJD's September Ordo HEREPlease note that many monastic communities follow their own list of commemorations and many of the celebrations will not be listed in any of these resources. 
The SSJD Ordo for September 2017
Sunday Eucharist - Year A ; Weekday Eucharist and Divine Office - Year 1

Fr 1 St. Giles, Abbot in Southern France, c. 720. (S).

Sa 2 Martyrs of New Guinea, 1942. (Comm - collect only at MP).

Su 3 Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 22 B.A.S. p. 377 - 378
Feast of St. Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome and Doctor, 604 (S)

Th 7 at E.P.: 1st E.P. Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Foundation Day, S.S.J.D. (D)
with Octave
Psalms 84, 85 1st Lesson: Isaiah 52: 7-12
2nd Lesson: Hebrews 2: 5-end

Fr 8 Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Foundation Day, S.S.J.D. (D)
at M.P.: Psalm 48 Reading: Romans 5: 12-end
at E.P.: Psalms 46, 98 1st Lesson: 1 Samuel 2: 1-10
2nd Lesson: 1 John 4: 7-end

Sa 9 John Medley, Bishop of Fredericton, 1892. (Comm - collect only at MP).

Su 10 Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 23 B.A.S. p. 378 - 379
Edmund Peck, Missionary to the Inuit
Edmund Peck, Missionary to the Inuit, 1924. (Comm - collect only at MP).
We13 Feast of St. Cyprian, Bishop and Martyr of Carthage, 258 (S)
at E.P.: 1st E.P. of the Feast of Holy Cross Day (D) (see B.A.S. p. 497)

Th 14 Feast of Holy Cross Day (D) B.A.S. p. 422
at M.P. : Alternative O.T. Reading: Isaiah 45: 21- 25

Fr 15 * Special collect and hymn for ministry at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer

Sa 16 Feast of St. Ninian, Bishop of Galloway, c. 430 (S)
* Special collect and hymn for ministry at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer

Su 17 Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 24 B.A.S. p. 379 - 380

Tu 19 Feast of St. Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, 690 (S)

We 20 Ministry Day - Special Propers at Eucharist & use Ordination Litany Form A - B.A.S. p.661
for the Intercessions; Additional collect at MP& EP
John Coleridge Patteson, Bishop of Melanesia, and his Companions, Martyrs, 1871. (C).
at E.P.: 1st E.P. Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (D)
Psalms 48, 122 or 84, 150 1st Lesson: Prov. 3: 1-6
2nd Lesson: Matthew 19: 16-end
Order of Collects at EP 1) St. Matthew
2) Ministry Day

Th 21 Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (D) B.A.S. p. 423
Benjamin Cronyn, Bishop of Huron

Fr 22 Requiem
Benjamin Cronyn, Bishop of Huron, 1871. (Comm - collect only at MP).

Su 24 Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost Proper 25 B.A.S. p. 381

Tu 26 Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, 1626. (Comm - collect only at MP).

We27 Feast of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest, Reformer and Religious Founder, 1660 (S)

Th 28 at E.P.: 1st E.P. Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (D)
Psalms 89, part 1 1st Lesson: Daniel 10: 4-end
2nd Lesson: Rev. 8: 1-6

Fr 29 Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (D) B.A.S. p. 424

Sa 30 Feast of St. Jerome, Priest, Monk of Bethlehem and Doctor, 420 (S)

Monday, August 14, 2017

See the World, you ARE Able, Part 4

The cruise began in Montreal and sailed up the St. Lawrence River stopping at Quebec City, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Sydney (New Brunswick), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Bar Harbour (Maine) and ending in Boston (Massachusetts).  We decided that the weather in May did not warrant having a balcony so we booked an Oceanview cabin with a window so that we could lie in bed and see the stars.  Remembering how sick I had been years ago on a ship, I came armed with seasickness patches, Gravol and packages of ginger tea, the latter of which was the only one that I had need to use.  "Look out at the horizon, not down at the waves" warned my brother-in-law Ed.  Good advice as I never felt one moment of seasickness.  Whether it was due to that or to the fact that the Maasdam was large enough that the sea didn't transmit any turbulence, I cannot say, but the handrails on either side of the wide hallways and the decks,  made it easy to get around and meant that I really didn't have to be accompanied by my cane wherever I went on the ship.

 I had ordered a cabin designated for disabled passengers and found that the  doorways and spaces in the cabins were very generous as was the size of the washroom.  The bathtub was easily accessible with bars and safety mats and there definitely was enough room for wheelchair access.  I can't say enough about the comfortable beds, so much so that we purchased one of their mattresses for our own house.  The furnishings, linens and cabin stewards were top notch.  We loved the towel creatures that rested on our beds each night. 
The ship had a casino and nightly Las Vegas-type shows and so many other activities that you could indulge in; however, avid movie goers that we are, we went into their "cinema" each night to view current movies and eat popcorn. 

We began our journey by flying to Montreal where we had booked air to ship transfers -- something that I highly recommend doing when booking your cruise.  It really does save the hassle of finding your way through the airport and getting to the right area to board the ship.  We were met by a very cheery representative who did her utmost to make sure that I had a place to sit while waiting for our bus and that I had a front seat on it when it came.  Boarding buses can be a challenge but she was prepared with a small footstool so that I could easily reach the front step and the bus driver was extremely helpful in guiding me to my seat. 

When we arrived at the terminal, we were shown to a special line for mobility challenged people and were processed and on our way to our cabins in no time at all.  Our luggage was delivered to our cabins within the hour; meanwhile we were invited to a welcome party on the deck.  We had chosen to eat in the dining room at the early sitting -- something you can arrange when you book your cruise.  As first time cruisers, we thought that a table with another couple would be ideal so that was what we chose.  You do have other options such as a later sitting or no dining room booking at all.  Should you choose this option, there are many other restaurants on board in which to dine. If you intend to do "free style dining", don't book the dining room seating as they prepare food for the number of people they expect, so if you don't show up, it wastes food.  Mind you, they are geniuses at transforming unused food for the midnight buffet which my husband truly loved.

Our first port was Quebec City.  I had been there on business several times but had never really seen the city itself.  One of the most magnificent views from the deck was the Chateau Frontenac.
There were many shore excursions from which to choose, ours being the trip to St. Anne de Beaupre.  Now, I must explain how I choose my excursions.  Holland America has a rating system which easily shows a one stick figure for the least amount of walking to four stick figures for a lot of walking and they also show dollar signs for the least to most expensive tours.  Needless to say, my upper limit of walking is two stick figures.  Most buses have the first few rows designated for mobility challenged people and there is storage for walkers as well.  You can also book private tours which many of the guests with scooters did because they could book vehicles which could accommodate them at their own pace.

Our bus took us through the city and the guide pointed out various areas of interest and then we proceeded into the country side, past Montmorency Falls
 to the great cathedral of St. Anne de Beaupre.  It was a Sunday, so while everyone else walked around looking at the grounds and the other sights, I went inside the church as part of the congregation.

See those steps -- I didn't climb them.  A tip about these old buildings is that if you walk around most of them, you will find an accessible entrance.
The next stop on our journey through the Maritimes was Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  I was so excited to see the home of my childhood hero, Anne of Green Gables.  In my youth, my curly, auburn hair was worn in pigtails and my nickname was Sue Ann of Green Gables.  The picture below is of Lucy Maude Montgomery's great granddaughter who works in the Green Gables house as a hostess. 
Unfortunately, I was limited to seeing only the main floor of the house as there were too many steps but what I did see was so interesting that I didn't mind.  One of the pictures on the wall that peaked my interest to re-read the books, was a portrait of Anne that I'm sure inspired the image we have of her so many years later.

Aside from the wonderful furniture and mind-boggling clothes on display within the house, were the many antiques (horse and carriages, water pumps) that were on the property itself.  We even went on a hayride (a very, very strong farmhand managed to lift me onto the wagon).
Sadly, we had to leave this beautiful island where the scenery and food were plentiful and so memorable.  I have to admit that I didn't leave without first stopping at COWS, the famous ice-cream store and, it is worth the however many miles trip to taste such glorious craft made products.

Continuing on, on our journey, the next port was Sydney, Nova Scotia.  As I mentioned before, we had travelled through Nova Scotia on the Celtic Colours tour a few years before this cruise, so I wasn't too disappointed in not being physically able to descend into the mines.  While my husband waiting in the lobby with my husband who was going on the tour, I met a few other women who had the same mobility challenge, and, together, we hailed a taxi to take us to the craft show that was on in the city.  One thing I have realized is that I am not the only person who has challenges and I am getting pretty good at reaching out to others to find things that w have in common and discover things to do. 

Our next port was Halifax and there is not enough time to recount all the wonderful sights to see in Halifax.  You can take shore excursions that will take on historic sightseeing tours as my husband did or you can sightsee retail, as I do, on Spring Street or along the harbour.  Since we had previously visited Peggy's Cover, home of the famous lighthouse, we opted for a tour to Lunenberg, home of the famous ship and to various towns around that area.  There was a wonderful nautical museum there which occupied my time while others climbed aboard the schooner.
It was that night, as we entered the Atlantic Ocean that I experienced my first encounter with rough seas.  Luckily for us, there were railings on both sides of the hallways so our regular nighttime dinner plans and visit to the cinema were not hampered.  It actually felt like being rocked to sleep in bed rather than anything unpleasant.  When we awoke the following morning, we discovered the reason for the turbulence was the storm that we were going through.  We were about to dock at our next port, |Bar Harbour, Maine and were told that it was raining and it was up to us if we wanted to continue with our shore excursion and regardless if we went or not, we would receive refunds for the tour.  My husband decided that he would go on the tour while I spent a delightful afternoon under a tent talking to local residents about the town.  Darryl brought back a few pictures of the colourful houses and some useful information.  I learned that the town is located on Mount Desert Island and is surrounded by Acadia National Park, rocky cliffs and blue waters and that had the weather been better, we could have gone lobster fishing or on a Schooner ride. 
We were very surprised when, upon re-boarding the Maasdam, we were greeted with a champagne reception, courtesy of the ship's captain who was feeling guilty about the weather mishap.
Our next and final port was Boston.  Darryl decided to take the shore excursion entitled USS Constitution and Harbour Cruise.  By this time, I had had quite enough of climbing on and off boats, so I decided to get on a city bus and knit the rest of my prayer shawl while I saw a bit of the town.  I happened to position myself right behind the driver who took an interest in the what I was knitting and, while I gave him a lesson in the theory behind the prayer shawl ministry, he gave me a guided tour of Boston.  What a treat!  And here I must draw your attention to bringing something you can do like knitting or crocheting or reading a good book.  It not only gives you something to do while you wait while other tour companions go where you are hesitant to tread (cobblestones, steps, etc.), it gives you a chance to talk to local passers-by and to interested tourists as well. 
We disembarked from our cruise with fond memories of our journey and proceeded to stay for a few days in this wonderful historic town. We loved Boston, especially our hotel.  We stayed at the historic Parker House Hotel, famous for, you guessed it, Parker House rolls.  What we didn't expect was the beautiful room with the antique furniture.  When choosing a hotel, I would suggest doing a bit of research about it first.  I had no idea that we would have an antique bed that was so high that I couldn't get in unless Darryl gave me a boost.  I got into the bed but when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to wake him up to help me.  That being said, the food made up for the difficulty.  Not only were the Parker House rolls everything we expected, but the Boston Cream Pie was unbelievable.  So this ends my tale of our first cruise.  We have gone on many more and I will continue the next installment detailing our trips to Europe. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Associates, Oblates and Discerners can join the new Facebook Page! Here's how

We are beginning with the basic Facebook page. the Page as a Secret Group, i.e., no one can see what is on the page unless they are accepted by one of our administrators -- Sue Ann Elite (Nakamoto), Michelle Loftus or Gail Holland.  While all Group Members are encouraged to tell others about the Facebook Group, we must remind you that only SSJD Associates, Oblates and Discerners can be invited to join and have access to the Page.
In order to become a member of our Facebook Group, you must be what is called "invited" and the easiest way for us to do this is for you to establish a Facebook profile.  We know that some of you are reluctant to have anything to do with social media like Facebook as you have several concerns relating to things that you have heard about it (complicated, too many notices, etc.). This Group is a "secret" Group which means that it has the highest level of security available on Facebook,  i.e., no one can see who the members of the group are or what they are posting and you will also notice that there are only Like or Comment buttons under the posts.  Normally there would also be a Share button.  That way as it is simply not possible to share anything from our secret group to anywhere else from inside our group.  It is also very easy to establish your profile,  For these reasons, Sister Helen Claire and Sue Ann who previously hesitated in attempting this challenge agreed to give it a shot.  "The small amount of steps to access the page, are really worth  being able to join with other Associates, Oblates and Discerners in expanding our wonderful community." 

If you already have a Facebook profile and would like to be "invited", please contact any of us -- Sue Ann at , Michelle at ,  or Gail at

If you are not a member of Facebook, here's the easy instructions on how to do it.
  1. Go to
  2. You will see at the top in bold letters "Sign Up". Click on it.
  3. Enter your name and your e-mail address.
  4. Enter a password that is NOT your e-mail address
  5. Enter your birth date (you can make up a date as long as you write it down for future reference as you need it to keep your own Facebook secure)
  6. Click on "next" which is on the bottom right.
  7. On the next screen, click on "SKIP" which is in the middle of the page.Congratulations, you are now on Facebook.
  8. Send your name to one of us and we will invite you to the Ward of the Ascension Facebook page.
  9. You will now have access to our wonderful community and we hope that those of you who inspired us to undertake this project. will use and contribute your ideas to the page.

Friday, August 4, 2017

See the World, You ARE Able, Part 3

Reality Sinks In!(or maybe "sinks" isn't a good choice of word)

On our tenth wedding anniversary, we took the Celtic Colours bus trip through Nova Scotia and had a great time listening to wonderful music and visiting some very interesting locales. I particularly remember a harrowing bus ride up and down a mountain in Cape Breton on a very foggy day and wondering how on earth the bus driver could see her way on the narrow, winding road.  Most of the passengers were women who were of the age that really felt the heat and thus the bus driver kept the air conditioning at full blast.  This proved to be a problem for me as I am sensitive to the cold.  I was extremely happy to have my alpaca cape with me to use as a blanket.  I really wanted to go down into the mines in Sydney but alas I couldn't manage the terrain.  I became increasingly aware of my inability to get on and off the buses and the strain on my energy level having to unpack bags in each stopover. It clearly was time to reconsider our future mode of transportation as I was not yet ready to toss away my "bucket list" of places I'd like to see. 

As we had enjoyed the East Coast so much, we decided to take a cruise to see more of it and happened upon the Holland America Cruise Lines itinerary for 7 Day Canada and New England aboard the Maasdam.

Its capacity is 1,258 people.. Named for the Maas River in the Netherlands, ms Maasdam is the fifth ship in Holland America Line's 140-year history to bear the name. Featuring an interior motif that pays homage to the historical Dutch East and West India companies of the 17th through 19th centuries, the centerpiece of this elegant ship features Luciano Vistosi's "Totem," a monumental sculpture using nearly 2,000 glimmering pieces of glass, prominently displayed in a soaring three-story atrium.
There are many onboard activities that allow you to pursue new interests or just relax and rejuvenate. I was so excited to learn how to "show and tell" my vacation memories thanks to the saintly patience of the Digital Workshop "techspert".   I spent a lot of time there trying to figure out how to get my pictures out of my camera and onto my computer. .  I was delighted to discover that there were onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops although I did feel a bit guilty participating as I am a professional chef.  I loved being able to tour the kitchen and see the food preparation in progress.  I was amazed at the fruit carving and cake decorating skills of the staff.
Although I knew about the Greenhouse Spa & Salon offering spa treatments, a thermal pool and lounge and a variety of salon services and the fully equipped Fitness Center including state-of-the-art cardio and weight machines, as well as classes in Yoga, Pilates, indoor cycling and more, I was too busy going on shore excursions to participate in them.  I did, however, manage to find time to enjoy the two outdoor pools and to walk along the decks with the help of railings along the sides of the deck. 
Needless to say, there were many elevators so I didn't have to walk up and down stairs.  I commented that if you didn't have a walker, a cane or a scooter, you didn't look like everyone else.  The other great thing about the ship was that it had a medical centre where you could go if you had any issues.  I do remember one day when we were on our way to Bar Harbour, Maine, when the Atlantic Ocean waves necessitated some seasickness help for me.  My ginger tea just didn't do it!  Another thing that I noticed after a few days was the lack of children except at mealtime.  I was amazed to know about the existence of Club HAL®  which provided a wide variety of youth and teen-friendly activities for kids ages 3 to 17 that was supervised by qualified, full-time staff
We spent most of our days going on shore excursions in the various ports, in fact, we booked so many that my schedule reminded me of being at summer camp.  That being said, we were novice cruisers and eager to see everything that we could.  In the evening there were so many things to do but we were often too tired to do anything except go to the first-run movies that were shown in the Wajang Theatre.  Had we had more energy, there was The Showroom at Sea that had Las Vegas-style shows, a Casino and several bars offering various types of entertainment.  My husband thoroughly enjoyed the Trivia Games in the Piano bar and I dearly wished that I could stay up later than 11:00 p.m. so that I could go dancing. But, enough about the ship...the next installment will be more about the destinations.  Bon voyage!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Priest Associate celebrates 100th Birthday

Last year Sr. Constance Joanna and The Reverend Frances Drolet-Smith, Oblate SSJD spent a lovely, lively afternoon with the Rev. Canon Russell Elliott, who became an SSJD Associate in 1945. He regaled them with stories, recalling the Cottage Hospital at Springhill where the Sisters offered nursing care. Canon Elliott turned 100 last month and has been an Associate for 70+ years!

From the Facebook page of the Diocesan Times- July 2017

Canon Russell Elliott delivered the homily at Trinity Anglican Church in Fairview  on July 30th.  Father Elliott celebrated his 76th year of ordained ministry l and his 100 birthday just prior to that.
His homily spoke to how the church evolved as communities evolved. And how change must continue if the church is to continue its work

A video of his sermon may be viewed here

Below is a meditation from the SSJD website, written by Canon Elliott

The following was written by the Rev. Canon C. Russell Elliott who lives in Wolfville, N.S. He has had a long and creative ministry; nearing his 99th birthday, he is still active and sharing his faith and love with all he meets. 
He has had a long association with the Sisterhood. His wife bore his first two children – boy and girl twins – at the hospital in Springhill, N.S. in the 1940s under the capable management of Sister Anna, SSJD. He has been a faithful Associate of SSJD for over 70 years. 
We print the following with Fr. Elliott’s permission and with thanksgiving to him.


Whatever else Lent may include it is inevitable that eventually I stand at the foot of the Cross. 
The Book of Common Prayer indicates that from the fifth Sunday onwards is Passiontide, fixing attention upon the Cross, its pain and promise, the Collect or daily prayer asking simply that God may “mercifully look upon thy people”. 
On Good Friday I am still standing at the foot of the Cross in profound prayer. I feel those eyes looking down upon me, now from the Cross. 
There are no words, there are no names, there are no reproaches, there are no promises. Yet I hear them all, I know what they tell me. I listen with my heart, I hear deep in my soul, I feel in my inmost being.
I am shattered and torn apart, I am burned and battered, I cannot die and I dare not live. That Man on the Cross, I once saw him weeping over the city – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I tried to draw you safely, like a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not come. 
He once told disciples, like me, that he is the first in a new kingdom, though there is no first there, all are free to care for everyone else – he even told Pilate that the kingdom is not of this sinful world. I heard him rebuke Peter, and me, for superficial loyalty. 
I saw him weep again when the death of Lazarus so deeply touched the heart of the sister. This morning I heard him promise to a thief – to me too? – ‘thou shalt be with me’. As the eyes closed and the head dropped, I heard a voice, from somewhere, maybe from my own throat: Make no mistake, this man is the Son of God. 
From wherever my own today’s personal Golgatha is, I find my quiet way to my home. The original Lent measured forty hours from death on the Cross to life at first Easter appearance. 
My soul counts quietly from darkness to light, from death to life. In the Garden, if I hear a voice call my name, as He once spoke to Mary, I know that all is well between us once more. 
Alleluia! Alleluia!