Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man

From the Archives

The Manx Church Magazine - March 1939

My Dear People,

I was very glad that so many of our people helped to give Lent a good start by being in God’s House on Ash Wednesday. The day was kept as a day of intercession extremely well in spite of the wet weather. It is still true that some will keep the parochial party sacrosanct but will not keep Ash Wednesday sacred. I felt very happy to see the crowd at the mission service at night, and the large number of young people. I hope we shall keep it up. What is the meaning and purpose of Lent? The forty days of Lent are appointed by the Holy Catholic Church (of which we are members) as a solemn season of humiliation for sin. If you follow the Collects, Epistles and Gospels of the Book of Common Prayer, you will see how we are led from sorrow for our sins which caused the Passion of our Lord to the rejoicing of Easter. If Easter is to be a time of rejoicing, we must keep Lent strictly. May I urge you to make a rule, something you can keep and mean to keep. This will naturally fall under five headings:

First, self-examination. Set apart time once a week, and use the “Ten Commandments” or, better still, the “Duties towards God and neighbour” in the Catechism and ask God to show how you have offended in thought, word or deed or by omission. Then confess them either privately or before one of God’s priests and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Secondly, by amendment of life. It is little use to confess one’s sins if we are not determined to amend or do better. So do your best to root out or conquer the sin or sins “which most easily beset you”. For instance, selfishness, conceit, untruthfulness, impatience, laziness, impurity. Carry on the battle with courage and faith. You may fail, but if you persevere you will gain the victory.

Thirdly, by prayer and Bible-reading and Holy Communion: Be at church Sunday by Sunday and receive Jesus through his Sacrament. Read a few verses of his Word each day, or at least on Sundays. Let your prayers be regular, said carefully, and try to meditate on what you have read in the Holy Bible.

Fourthly, by fasting: Most Church people think this is out-of-date or are quite indifferent. Take no notice of this. The Church orders us to fast but leaves us free to choose in what way. Fasting helps us to keep our bodies in control. It helps to remind us of our Lord’s fast and of the cross he has bidden us to take up.

Fifthly, almsgiving: We should make a definite effort to give alms.

Let us all keep Lent well that on Easter Day we may be ready to greet our risen Lord.

May God bless you.

Your sincere friend and Vicar,

Lewis C Watson

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