At the suggestion of parishioner Arthur Walmsley, retired Bishop of Connecticut, we are inviting all our members to observe Holy Week this year with special disciplines of fasting and prayer in solidarity with the suffering around the world and here at home. In the news are the continued devastation and nuclear peril in the wake of the earthquake in Japan, violence and oppression in the Arab world as people struggle to achieve democracy and equality, and budget cut-backs at the federal and state levels that threaten the safety net for our most vulnerable sisters and brothers. In this week when the Church focuses on the suffering of Jesus, it is appropriate for Christians to take on special disciplines of fasting and prayer in solidarity with them, as Jesus sacrificed himself for us.
Part of our observance of fasting and prayer will be at church, each evening beginning at 6:00 p.m. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we will have two-hour services of silent prayer, readings, intercession for particular people or groups who are suffering, and a short, simple Eucharist. On Maundy (Holy) Thursday, the regular 7:00 p.m. liturgy commemorating the Last Supper will be preceded at 6:00 p.m. by a silent, agape soup and bread supper, during which there will be a reading. On Good Friday, the 7:00 p.m. liturgy will be preceded at 6:00 p.m. by Stations of the Cross.
The following are some suggestions for fasting at home during the week:
- Make one meal each day a light one.
- Give up snacks between meals.
- Give up some food: meat, desserts, alcohol . . .
- Give up prepared foods or gourmet foods.
- Pray each day for some person or group of persons in suffering or need: Japanese victims of the earthquake; victims of violence or unrest in the Arab world; those affected by government cut-backs in services; the unemployed; those affected by rises in fuel, gas or food prices.
- Contribute money you save from fasting to the offering on Easter Day, which will be divided with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Pressured between Zionist Jews and Muslims, the Diocese operates many schools, hospitals and other charitable institutions in countries throughout the Middle East.