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Dear Friends,

 Whether it comes early or late, Lent always has a way of sneaking up on me. This year it’s neither early nor late, but it has still caught me unawares. Happily, there are six weeks to get over my surprise and get used to it! And there are plenty of good things to fill up those six weeks, plenty of offerings here at St. James to make this Lenten pilgrimage a rich and grace-filled experience. Let me mention a few.

PRAYER. The most important prayer we have is, of course, the Sunday Mass we celebrate here together in the Cathedral. If we were to do nothing more this Lent than to participate more fully, actively, and consciously in each of the Lenten Sunday celebrations, we would be doing something great. The Sundays of Lent are rich in opportunities for growth in faith and in the understanding of our faith. But we needn’t stop there. Lenten weekday Masses are also a wonderful way for deepening our walk with Christ during this holy season.

This Lent, some 250 of you will be joining me on a pilgrimage to Florence, Siena, Assisi, and Rome. Whether you are coming along, or staying at home, let us be united in prayer during those eight memorable days. I invite you to submit your own prayer intentions online so that we can take them with us and pray for you each step of the way, and especially at the different Masses we celebrate in holy places along the way. Let’s make this a true pilgrimage of prayer for our whole parish community!

Another possibility for making this Lent a meaningful one: consider taking part in our Alpha program, which begins February 20. Alpha is a wonderful opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith over a meal, in an open and engaging conversation. Each of us knows someone who might be open to exploring issues of faith. This could be someone who was raised Catholic but who no longer practices; or it could be someone with no little or no faith background at all but who might be interested in doing some searching; it could even be your spouse or ‘significant other!’ Think about who this might be and then consider inviting that person to come along with you. What better way to explore faith than in the company of sincere, open-minded people over a meal?

Other Lenten prayer possibilities might included extending your family prayer at meal times, taking some time each day to read and reflect prayerfully on the Gospels; attending Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Sunday afternoons; praying the Stations of the Cross on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays; or joining in the Lenten Holy Hour on Friday evenings.

Still one other wonderful opportunity for prayer this Lent is the “adoption” of one of our “Elect” (the people who will be baptized and confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time at the Easter Vigil). “Adoption” means that you will take it on yourself to pray for that person in a special way all during Lent. Prayer cards will be available in the north aisle of the Cathedral, each one with the name of one of our Elect. This can be a wonderful and very ‘hands-on’ way of reaching out to our newest members, supporting them along their journey of faith. And it’s something everyone can do!

FASTING. The church is wise in reminding us that fasting can help put us in closer contact with Jesus who willingly accepted suffering and even death in order to show us the depth of his love for us. What better way to draw close to Jesus than by freely denying ourselves some of life’s comforts? And what better way to draw close to the suffering people of the world—the hungry, the homeless, the hopeless—than by tasting, even in a small way, their cup of suffering?

ALMSGIVING. I like to connect this with fasting. Fasting can be no more than proudly flexing one’s spiritual muscles—the spiritual equivalent of strutting about the gym—if it is not related to reaching out to others. And again this year the Church offers you the perfect way to do just that. The Rice Bowl is the perfect vehicle for turning fasting into a work of Christian love. Think what will happen this Lent if you make the Rice Bowl your table centerpiece and then put into it each day or each week the money you have saved by eating a little more simply than usual. On Holy Thursday, when we invite all of you to bring forward your Rice Bowls at the collection time of the Mass, you will see in a powerful way how people who take Lent seriously can make a difference not only in their lives but in the lives of hungry people in our world.

It was at our baptism that we got our Christian “passport,” and it is our baptism that calls us to walk the Lenten journey with Jesus. May we walk the journey together in faith, hope, and love!

Father Michael G. Ryan

Download this guide to Lent in .pdf format here


Prayer During Lent

ASH WEDNESDAY is celebrated Wednesday, February 14. Masses are at 8:15am, 10:10am (with O’Dea High School), 12:10pm, and 6:00pm. (Please note the start time for the evening Mass of Ash Wednesday!) All are welcome to join in a Simple Supper sponsored by the Cathedral Kitchen following the 6:00pm Mass.
MASS The Masses of Lent are the ideal way to grow closer to the Lord Jesus. The scriptural readings for the Sunday and weekday celebrations are particularly rich in their ability to inspire and challenge. Weekday Masses are at 8:15am and 5:30pm.
PRAYING THE STATIONS is a wonderful Lenten tradition in the Church. There are three opportunities to pray the Stations each week: on Mondays following 12:10pm Midday Prayer, Wednesdays following the 5:30pm Mass, and Fridays following the 8:15am Mass (except First Fridays). The unique Stations of the Cross in the Cathedral are the work of Cathedral iconographer Joan Brand-Landkamer. They were inspired by the work of 20th-century French artist Georges Rouault. You can also pray the stations online by clicking here.
LITURGY OF THE HOURS Each weekday at 12:10pm in the Cathedral Chapel, we pray the Liturgy of the Hours. This short community prayer is based on the psalms, and includes readings from scripture and from our rich Catholic tradition.

LENTEN ADORATION ON FRIDAY EVENINGS Each Friday during Lent, we will have an hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament following the 5:30pm evening Mass. It is a time for silent prayer in the presence of Christ, lasting until 7:00pm. Stay for the whole prayer or drop in for a few minutes.
VESPERS AND BENEDICTION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT This beautiful prayer is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. It is celebrated in the Cathedral each Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm.
PARISH PILGRIMAGE TO ITALY More than 250 Cathedral parishioners will be joining Father Ryan on pilgrimage to Rome. You are invited to submit prayer intentions online (visit www.stjames-cathedral.org/pilgrimage). We will pray for your intentions at all the holy places along our journey. You can also take a “virtual” pilgrimage by following us on Facebook or Instagram!
HOLY HOUR DURING LENT This year, we will have our regular First Friday Holy Hour on Friday, March 2 at 12 Noon, with rosary and Liturgy of the Hours. Please note that we will not have weekly noontime Holy Hours on the Fridays of Lent this year—instead, we will have an hour of adoration after the 5:30pm Mass on the Fridays of Lent so that more people can participate.
NO TAIZE PRAYER IN MARCH Because the Cathedral musicians will be on pilgrimage in Rome, there will be no Taizé on Friday, March 2. You are invited to join in an hour of silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 6:00pm to 7:00pm that evening.
THE RICE BOWL is a wonderful way to grow in solidarity with the poor and the millions in our world who lack the basic necessities of life. Rice Bowls are in the vestibules of the Cathedral. Daily reflections available at www.crsricebowl.org.
SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION This Lent, there are many opportunities to celebrate the sacrament of God’s mercy. Confessions are heard each Saturday from 4:00—5:00pm. Our communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Penance will be Saturday, March 10 at 4:00pm and Monday, March 19 at 7:30pm.
ALPHA, beginning February 20, is an opportunity to explore life and the Christian faith in a friendly, open, and informal environment. No pressure. No follow up. No charge. If you're new to the parish and want to get to know your fellow parishioners, Alpha is for you. If you want to go deeper in your faith, Alpha is for you. If you know someone--a friend, a family member, a spouse--who wants to talk about life's big questions, invite them to join you for Alpha! Enjoy food, a short talk, and time to share thoughts and questions. Information, www.stjames-cathedral.org/alpha.

RCIA During Lent

JOURNEY OF THE ELECT  Lent is a time of intensive prayer and preparation for our Catechumens, who are preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.  Soon they will no longer be called Catechumens, but Elect, following the celebration of the Rite of Election. This final period of purification and enlightenment, which, since the beginnings of the Church, has taken place during Lent, consists more of interior reflection than catechetical instruction.  It is intended to purify the hearts and minds of the Elect as they search their own consciences and do penance.  This period is also intended to enlighten their minds and hearts with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.
Please pray for: Clayton Hatridge •   Johnna Jones •   Khoi Nguyen •  Jason Wayne 
Please pick up a prayer card at the Place of Prayer near the font. As Easter draws near, you will be invited to write a note telling our Elect of your prayerful support.
The following are some important dates in the journey of our Catechumens:
RITE OF ELECTION We begin a season of intensified preparation by celebrating the Rite of Election. On the basis of the testimony of sponsors and catechists, the Church judges the state of readiness of the Catechumens for baptism, and decides on their advancement toward the sacraments of initiation. This step is called “election” and is based on the Catechumens’ election by God, in whose name the Church acts. From this point on, those preparing for Baptism are referred to as the Elect.
THE SCRUTINIES Lent began in the Church as a time of intense spiritual preparation and healing for the Elect. On the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, the Church pours out her most powerful prayers for deliverance from sin and evil during the Scrutiny Rites. These rites will take place at the 10:00am Mass on March 4, March 11, and March 18.
SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 8:30pm: THE EASTER VIGIL On this holiest of nights, we celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist with our Elect. The Easter Vigil is the undisputed high point of the entire liturgical year, the “mother of all vigils,” as St. Augustine called it.

Official Lenten Regulations
from the Archdiocese of Seattle

For this penitential season, the Church draws on the wisdom of the Scriptures and tradition in suggesting a time of intense prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Catholics in the United States are obliged to abstain on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during the season of Lent.  Catholics are also obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  Self-imposed observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended, as is abstinence from meat on all Fridays of the year.  Ash Wednesday is February 14, 2018. Good Friday is March 30, 2018.

Fasting. On a day of fasting, one full meal is allowed. Two other meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one's needs, but together they should not equal the other full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted, but liquids, including milk and juices, are permitted.

Abstinence. On days of abstinence eating of meat is not allowed.

The obligation of fasting binds Catholics who are 18 - 59 years old.  The obligation of abstinence applies to those 14 years and older. The law does not oblige when health or ability to work would be seriously affected.

The Chancery

Choral Prayer for Lent

Saturday, February 17, 8:00pm
The Road of Mercy
Opus 7 presents a program of choral music for the Lenten season, which includes Benjamin Britten’s great masterpiece, Cantata Misericordium for choir, soloists, harp, percussion, piano, and string orchestra. A dramatic retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan, it compels us to show mercy to our neighbor. Loren Pontén conducts this annual concert for the penitential season. Information and passes, www.opus7.org.
Friday, February 23, 8:00pm
Rome Pilgrimage Concert
The Cathedral Choir, Jubilate! Young Women’s Ensemble and a large group of St. James pilgrims travel to Florence, Siena, Assisi, and Rome. The choirs will offer Italian audiences a flavor of the music-making in Seattle. Join us for this send-off concert. Information and passes, www.stjames-cathedral.org/music.
Friday, March 16, 2018, 8:00pm
Moody: The Akathistos Hymn
Rev. Dr. Ivan Moody, British composer, conductor, and Orthodox priest, returns to direct his stunning setting of the 6th-century hymn to the Mother of God, blending Byzantine chant with richly textured Russian-style choruses, composed expressly for Cappella Romana, in English with Greek refrains. Join Alexander Lingas for a pre-concert talk at 7:00pm in Room 1EW, Cathedral Place Information and passes, www.cappellaromana.org.
Saturday, March 17, 8:00pm
Evolution of Chant
Chant has been the cornerstone of Western music since the 9th century, from the Gregorian era to the Renaissance, Baroque, and even contemporary music. The Byrd Ensemble explores motets based on chant from Thomas Tallis’s Loquebantur variis linguis to American composer Eric Whitacre’s Sainte-Chapelle. Information and passes at www.byrdensemble.com.


Pope Francis on Lent

Lent is a path: it leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children. Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life. The mark of the ashes with which we set out reminds us of our origin: we were taken from the earth, we are made of dust.  True, yet we are dust in the loving hands of God, who has breathed his spirit of life upon each one of us, and still wants to do so.

Lent is the time for saying no. No to indifference—no to thinking that other people’s lives are not my concern, no to every attempt to trivialize life. Lent means saying no to the toxic pollution of empty and meaningless words, of harsh and hasty criticism, of simplistic analyses that fail to grasp the complexity of problems, especially the problems of those who suffer the most. Lent is the time to say no to forms of spirituality that reduce the faith to a culture of exclusion.

Lent is a time for remembering. It is the time to reflect and ask ourselves what we would be if God had closed his doors to us. What would we be without his mercy that never tires of forgiving us and always gives us the chance to begin anew? Lent is the time to ask ourselves where we would be without the help of so many people who in a thousand quiet ways have stretched out their hands and in very concrete ways given us hope and enabled us to make a new beginning?

Lent is the time to start breathing again. It is the time to open our hearts to the breath of the One capable of turning our dust into humanity. 

Pope Francis, Ash Wednesday 2017


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Seattle, Washington  98104
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