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Download the complete Lent guide here

Dear Friends,

            Did you know that the word Lent is an Old English word—a variation on the word “lengthen”? Spring is definitely in the wings: the days are lengthening, and we are moving steadily from the cold grip of winter into the arms of spring.

            Most of us welcome spring with open arms. And in our better moments, we welcome Lent, too. It’s the ideal time to catch our breath, to intensify our faith journey, and to get in touch with our baptism in all its rich meaning.
I’m happy to share with you that, in our parish this Lent, we have a wonderful group of six who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. For many months now - and even years - they have been making their journey toward faith in the midst of our community. In many ways, it is our faith – our prayer together, our Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, our commitment to humble service in the name of Jesus - that have inspired them to seek baptism. I have often observed that no one comes to Jesus alone. We are in this together! I know you will hold our catechumens in your prayers during the coming days as they approach the waters of baptism.

            Baptism. Theirs and ours. It all culminates at Easter when our friends chosen for baptism enter the waters of the font - after which we stand with them to renew our own baptismal promises and to be sprinkled with the same water with which they have just been baptized. One family we all become that happy moment: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism! (Eph. 4:6)

            Now, let me say a word about the coming days of Lent which will not only be the final preparation of our catechumens for baptism but also our time to be renewed in the grace and the meaning of our baptism. Lent is this wonderful path to deeper growth and freedom, and the Church has a time-tried, three-pronged program for making that happen: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. A few words about each.

            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 wonderfully worthwhile. The Sundays of Lent are rich in opportunities for growth in faith and in the understanding of our baptism. But we needn’t stop there. Lenten weekday Masses are also a wonderful way for deepening our walk with Christ during this holy season.

            Other Lenten prayer possibilities might include extending your family prayer at meal times, or taking some time each day to read and reflect prayerfully on a passage from one of the Gospels. And there are some wonderful prayer opportunities at the Cathedral: Sunday afternoon Vespers and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the Stations of the Cross on Mondays and Fridays; and joining in Adoration after Mass on Thursday mornings. There are also opportunities to share your faith with others in small groups. This year we are hosting a five-week series called Reflect and Renew: Encountering Christ this Lent, both in-person on Monday evenings, and Wednesday evenings via Zoom. Please consider joining in one of these groups, focused on the Gospels of our Lenten Sundays.
            Still one other wonderful opportunity for prayer this Lent is to pray for our catechumens (soon to be called the “Elect” - who will be baptized and confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time at the Easter Vigil). Their names are printed in this flyer. This can be a wonderful way of reaching out to these newest members, supporting them along their journey of faith. And it’s something absolutely 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 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?

            And here’s another way of reaching out to those who are hungry and homeless. Why not volunteer to help one weekend with our Sunday morning breakfast? Whether you come to help prepare the meal on a Saturday afternoon, or to serve our guests early on Sunday, this is a great way to be in solidarity with those who experience a “forced fast” every day. If you are interested, please contact Patrick Barredo.

            ALMSGIVING. 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 of the Lord’s Supper, 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

MASS The Sunday and weekday Masses of Lent are the ideal way to grow closer to the Lord Jesus. The scriptural readings for are particularly rich in their ability to inspire and challenge. Weekday Masses are at 8:00am daily, and Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 12:10pm.
THE WAY OF THE CROSS is a wonderful Lenten tradition in the Church. There are two opportunities to pray the Stations each week: on Mondays following 12:10pm Mass, and Fridays following the 8:00am Mass. The Cathedral Stations of the Cross are the work of Joan Brand-Landkamer, inspired by 20th-century French artist Georges Rouault.
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.
CONTEMPLATIVE EVENING PRAYER On Friday, March 3 at 6:30pm, you are invited to join in contemplative evening prayer with the music of the ecumenical community of Taizé, France. With haunting chant, instrumental music, and time for silent prayer and contemplation in the candlelit Cathedral, this beloved tradition is the perfect way to enter into the season of Lent.  Please note that there is no Taizé Prayer on Friday, April 7, Good Friday.
ADORATION OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT Each Thursday during Lent, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will follow the morning Mass and continue until 9:30am, with rosary and time for quiet adoration.
THE RICE BOWL is a wonderful way to grow in solidarity with 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 every Saturday from 8:30am-9:30am. Our communal celebration of the Sacrament of Penance will be Monday, March 27 at 7:00pm.
LENTEN STUDY FOR ADULTS Given the contentious world we live in today, how do we as followers of Jesus make choices in our personal and social life? Join Beverly Dunn SP during Lent as she explores the rich array of tools available to us as Catholics in navigating the complexities of contemporary life – scripture, discernment and the wisdom of our Catholic teaching. The five-session study will be offered Tuesday evenings from 7:00-9:00pm in Cathedral Hall, beginning Tuesday, February 28. Information and registration, 206-654-4658 or jsimpson@stjames-cathedral.org.

Reflect and Renew
Encountering Christ this Lent

Reflect and Renew is a simple small-group reflection based on the readings for each Sunday of Lent. As our local Church prepares to work together in new ways as we implement Partners in the Gospel, this series will help us to listen other more attentively and to reflect on how we encounter Christ in the Church and in community.
Mondays—in person
6:30pm-7:45pm, Holy Names Room
February 27, March 6, 13, 20, and 27
Wednesdays—on Zoom
March 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29
To register for either the in-person or Zoom session, email Maria Laughlin, mlaughlin@stjames-cathedral.org.


Saturday, March 11 at 8:00pm

The award-winning U.K. choir Tenebrae, directed by Nigel Short, is one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles, renowned for its passion and precision. In their first-ever Seattle concert appearance, they sing a program celebrating some of the finest choral works from the Renaissance through to the present day, ranging from the haunting Allegri Miserere mei, Deus, to Harris’ spectacular Faire is the Heaven. Other works showcase the rich, dark sound world of the Russian orthodox, the prayerful intimacy of English masters, and the soaring contrapuntal lines of the late Renaissance. Tickets and more information, https://www.stjames-cathedral.org/music/concerts or 206-382-4874.  

Saturday, March 25 at 8:00pm  

Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble presents a powerful collection of choral music for the Lenten season expressing mercy and hope. Contemplate the solemnity of the season with lush romantic works by Mendelssohn, Rheinberger, Georg Schumann, Pizzetti, Szymanowski and Villette; the crystalline, plaintive melodies of Henry Purcell; and American composers William Albright, Gwyneth Walker, and Seattle’s Peter Hallock. The central work is Krzysztof Penderecki’s Agnus Dei, written in 1981 as part of his Polish Requiem and dedicated to Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński. The Polish Requiem began as a commission from the trade union Solidarity to memorialize those killed in anti-government protests. Tickets and more information, http://opus7.org/music/concerts/.

The Office of Tenebræ
Wednesday, April 5 at 7:30pm  

The name Tenebræ (the Latin word for "shadows") was originally given to the ancient monastic services of matins (celebrated after midnight) and lauds (celebrated at dawn) of the last three days of Holy Week. By the late Middle Ages, these services were consolidated into a single daily celebration on each evening before Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Following numerous 20th-century papal reforms, Tenebræ today is celebrated in many different forms, which can include the chanting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in which each verse is introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights in the church to signify the darkness that overshadowed the earth at Christ’s crucifixion. The loud noise, or strepitus, at the conclusion of the service suggests the earthquake described in the Passion narratives. The single candle left burning is the symbol and promise of Christ’s triumph over death and darkness. The Cathedral Cantorei will sing Thomas Tallis’ setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the sublime Miserere mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri, as well as plainchant psalmody. Father Michael G. Ryan, presider.  

Tre Ore
Friday, April 7 from 12pm-3pm  

We observe the traditional Good Friday devotion of Tre Ore (“Three Hours”) in which we remember the last words of Christ proclaimed from the cross. These brief exclamations from Jesus alternate with movements from Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and meditations by Diana Macalintal on the Seven Last Words of Christ. The Pergolesi is sung by Jubilate! Young Women’s Ensemble, Stacey Sunde, director with the Cathedral Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Joseph Adam.  

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 those to be baptized at the Easter Vigil:

Celeste Axelson ▪ Dave Duche
Kate Fay ▪ Olivia Hall
Sherri Pimentel ▪ Aster Starr
Jacob Hughes  

Please visit the Place of Prayer near the Cathedral font or on the Cathedral website, and pray for our Elect each day during this season of Lent. As Easter draws near, you are invited to write a note telling our Elect of your prayerful support. The following are some important moments in the journey of our Catechumens:  

RITE OF ELECTION We begin a season of intensified preparation by celebrating the Rite of Election on February 25. 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 12, 19, and 26.  

SATURDAY, APRIL 8, 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. Archbishop Etienne has granted a dispensation for Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Ash Wednesday is February 22, 2023. Good Friday is April 7, 2023.

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


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