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  A Lenten Pastoral Letter from Bishop Don

6 February 2013

My dear Friends in Christ:
A Lenten Pastoral Letter from Bishop DonI am writing this in Toronto after spending a glorious weekend "celebrating" with our Celebration Church in Barrie as they move into their third year of celebrating their call from Christ to come out and witness to the Faith that is so sustaining to them. Earlier in the week we had a very wonderful couple of days of renewal and refreshment with our clergy in the Toronto area, and on Saturday a very spirit-filled morning as some 73 men from the area gathered together for a Prayer Breakfast. On Sunday evening, many of us were able to congregate at Christ the King in downtown Toronto for the ordination of two young deacons who became Priests in Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
These activities of coming together do much to restore and boost our spiritual batteries both as individuals and within our church families as well. We are reminded that while we bear one another's burdens, we also have the opportunity to share our mutual joys. Such events long will be remembered and we are so grateful that there are some areas where our geographic locations permit such times of refreshment.
When I unpacked my luggage last night I discovered that in my haste to get from one engagement to another, I had carelessly left the package containing all of my medications back at the Rector's home in Barrie. It was only when I no longer had them, that I fully realized just how much I was depending on some of these pills for my continued good health.
Like many, if not most of you, my medicine needs consist of a number of things which, though probably desirable, are non essential to my immediate well being. If I still want them, I can get them over the counter of almost any pharmacy. However, there are others that have been prescribed by a doctor and must be taken at regular times and with proper dosages or illness is likely to occur. Many of you know just how important it is to take blood pressure medications, for example, on a consistently regular basis or we may find ourselves not feeling well and probably in store for big trouble.
But is it not the same for our spiritual lives? We all have our own "prescriptions" in order to advance and come closer to Our Lord on a daily basis. Some of our aids are like the supplements we take, not essential yet very helpful. Others, though, are critical, and without them our times at prayer and meditation can become dry, listless, and even depressing.
Just as few of us have exactly the same medical needs, so each of our spiritual journeys is distinctive and hand-tailored to suit where we are in our relationship to Christ and to one another. As they say, one size rarely fits all.
Yet we all need the "basics", found in prayer, sacraments, and spiritual exercises. Many of you have Spiritual Directors, prayer groups or clusters of people who share your desires and needs and with whom you feel as one when you pray. Above all, we are called upon to "bear one another's burdens" as we constantly intercede for one another.
Lent certainly is a time for us to re-examine our spiritual medications and see what they are doing for us. Do some of our aids need to be increased or do some of them now need to be replaced with something completely different to meet our present situation? In other words, we need time for self examination - from which can come further action. Jesus took such time for prayer and reflection when he went into the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry; and as we commemorate that period of time we call Lent, we strive to build up the spiritual stamina for the next challenge or temptation that comes our way.
This Lent, I call upon you to do two things. 
As individuals, allow a deliberate time each day for silence. It is not an easy request in our talkative society, but it is only through this gift that can hear that "still, small voice" that the world, the flesh and the devil is so anxious to drown out. Surely, it is as important to listen to Him as it is to speak to Him.
As parishes, I am calling on every congregation in our Diocese, to take on some special activity or study, or prayer time, during the Lenten period. It may be something new, or simply intensifying something you already are doing.
And, since this will be my last Lenten Pastoral to you, I would be touched if someone from each congregation dropped me an email, telling me what you attempted and what was accomplished.
May this be a Blessed Season for us all as day by day we move towards the Joy of Easter.


Your Bishop and Moderator

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