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From Our Bishops

Letter to the Diocese from Bishop Andrew

Dear Friends,

I invite you therefore, in the name of the Lord, to observe a holy lent by self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting and almsgiving… These words, spoken by the presider at the liturgy of Ash Wednesday, invite us to step into the season of Lent, to take on these spiritual disciplines in preparation for the Christian Passover. Last week, I touched on the discipline of fasting. Today, I share a few thoughts on prayer.

Each year at this time, the College of Bishops, Dean, Executive Director and Chancellor go on retreat. It’s our opportunity to pull away from our daily routine and to be replenished by prayer, reflection and fellowship. In the past, we have stayed at the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where we have enjoyed the guidance and teaching of one of the Brothers. Since COVID-19, we have stayed closer to home and invited our counterparts in the Diocese of Niagara to join us. This year we continue that pattern. Gathering at Niagara-on-the-Lake, we have been enjoying the leadership of our Primate, Linda Nicholls. We are blessed by her wisdom, insight and long experience as a leader in the Church as we reflect on paradoxes of leadership in these times. Our sessions are wrapped in prayer and song.

At this time of year, I try to take on a practice or discipline that helps me journey through the season of Lent. This year, my wife Mary and I have taken on saying Morning Prayer together, using the form in the BAS. This is not a new discipline for me, but one that we have never actually done together in a consistent way. Before the first coffee of the day, we take 20 minutes or so to follow the pattern of worship, beginning on page 47. And we take with us the concerns and hopes, the broken bits and blessings. We pray for family, friends, the world and creation. And most specifically, we pray for you. We pray for the Diocese, for congregations and clergy, and ministries large a small. We pray for places we have been and places we are about to visit. We ask God’s blessing on your ministry and leadership in these challenging times. We are so grateful for you.

We are enjoying this pattern of prayer, and it is bringing us closer together and closer to God. Even though we have been apart from each other these last couple of days, we share in worship by phone. There may be someone you would like to pray with each day as you make your way through Lent, either in person, by phone or online. Before being jostled by the morning news, it provides a moment of peace and quiet. It does mean getting up earlier each morning, but somehow the coffee tastes just a little bit richer. I have a hunch this discipline will move beyond the 40 days of Lent…

Yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto