Dear friends,

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty-day fast of Lent – and (depending on when you open this e-mail!) you may still just about be in time to come to Mass this morning at 9.30am, or otherwise this evening at 6pm: both Masses will include the imposition of ashes.

This holy season of Lent is an excellent time to review our spiritual lives as Christians, and – in particular, and as I reiterate so often – to recommit to encountering the Lord Sunday by Sunday in the celebration of the Mass. I would also like gently to encourage the whole congregation to ensure that, each week, we arrive in good time for the beginning of the Eucharist at 10.30: it is said that “to be on time is already to be five minutes late”, because – before we stand to sing the entrance hymn – we should have endeavoured to spend time quietly in prayer, preparing ourselves to participate prayerfully and attentively in the sacred mysteries. Our presence in good time for the beginning of the liturgy can also be an encouragement to those who come to us as guests and visitors, and who would surely be better heartened by entering a church in which a large congregation was already seated and saying their prayers, than by coming into a building which looked unused and empty! Arriving in good time is also very beneficial to your wardens and clergy, who sometimes require last-minute volunteers to assist with various ministries. In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus says that ‘[the] time has comeand the kingdom of God is close at hand‘: let us not be late to greet the Lord, who comes to us in Holy Communion!

Next week on Wednesday (21 February), the 9.30 Mass will begin with the traditional Lenten devotion of the Stations of the Cross. Please note that there will be no public Morning Prayer on Thursday 22 February.

We are invited to join our brother and sister Christians in the Kenton Group of Churches for two forthcoming joint services, both beginning at All Saints’ RC Church (and for both of which fliers are attached): on Friday, 1 March the World Day of Prayer will be marked during a service at 2pm, in which material prepared by Palestinian Christians will encourage us to pray for freedom, justice and peace. Then, on Good Friday, 29 March, the joint Walk of Witness will commence at All Saints at 9.15am, pausing next for prayer at Kenton Methodist Church, before arriving at St Mary’s for the concluding prayers in the memorial garden (weather permitting), and, afterwards, refreshments in the Hall. Even if the walk from All Saints might be too difficult for you, please consider joining in the final prayers here at St Mary’s, and/or volunteering to welcome our guests with a hot cross bun and cup of tea. Also during Holy Week, do think about coming to St Andrew, Holborn for the Bishop of Fulham’s Chrism Mass: during this service, the priests of the See of Fulham renew our ordination vows, and the holy oils (of catechumens, of Chrism and for the sick) for the coming year are blessed. It is a great encouragement to your clergy to see the lay faithful from our parishes taking part in this important liturgy.

Closer to home, there is a petition on the website of Brent Council – to install a pelican crossing at the crossroads between the Kenton Road and Woodcock Hill/ Kenton Lane, to which you can add your support here.

In our Gospel reading this Sunday, we will hear of Christ’s own forty days of self-denial in the desert, where he was ‘with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him‘: may we use these forty days to confront our own unruly impulses, and to call upon the hosts of heaven to journey with us in faith.

May the Lord teach us His ways, that we might always walk in His truth,

Fr Richard