The Lenten Journey

Published: 15th March 2024

‘Following Christ in the footsteps of St Chad’

March begins with the celebration of the lives of two saints; on 1st March we have St David, (or Dewi Sant) C6th Bishop of Wales and on 2nd March we have St Chad, C7th first Bishop of Lichfield and our patron. These days punctuate Lent, giving us an opportunity to pause and reflect on how the holy people of old patterned their lives on that of Christ. We might consider how we may learn from their ancient wisdom at this point on our Lenten journey. It’s a journey which has a distinctive shape, beginning with a purposeful focus on discipline, fasting and intentional holiness; it moves inexorably toward the intensity of its conclusion in Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the Cross.

Yet during these middle weeks of Lent we find ourselves with Jesus in the wilderness, a place of desolation and abandonment; yet paradoxically, it’s potentially a time of great spiritual growth, if we dare to withdraw, to enter deeply into a time of self-examination and keep company with Jesus. We are invited to dwell, abide, to wait, to ‘tarry’, to slow down in our journey. We can learn much from the Celtic saints who lived the monastic life for whom these practices were embedded in their ‘Rule of Life’.

Earlier this year, I chose Jeremiah 6:16 as a guiding verse: “Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” It seems to me that Lent is indeed a good time to pause at the crossroads and look to those ancient paths and perhaps heed the prophet’s words to take them?

One of the distinctive characteristics of both these saints, Dewi and Chad, is that they were encouragers of others in their mission. As founders of monasteries, they built communities of learning; but they also lived lives of discovery and adventure, spreading the Christian message and gathering disciples as they went. They recognised the wisdom of taking time out to rest, pray and study. We owe them, and so many others, much gratitude for their legacy of Christian practice.

In our Chad Foundations programme we have sought to embed some of these principles and practices in preparation for public ministry. The Chad programme allows those taking the first steps into ministry to explore what it feels like to be part of a learning community, albeit mostly online, in the virtual world of Moodle; yet we also take time out to pray, eat, study and enter into retreat together on our gathered days. We travel as companions together in small groups. Chad aims to be a journey of adventure and discovery, of exploring ministry and mission, where we can examine that vocational question, ‘What is it Lord, that you have called me to do?’. As we each continue on our individual Lenten journeys, I wonder if that question is one that saints like Chad and Dewi might help us answer?

Clare Whitney - Lay Ministerial Learning and Development Officer

For information about the Chad Foundations Programme see the webpage:

Page last updated: Friday 15th March 2024 10:33 AM
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