Shawna Atteberry

Baker, Writer, Teacher

Ash Wednesday Liturgies at Chicago Grace Episcopal Church

Chicago Grace Episcopal Church will be having two Ash Wednesday services including imposition of ashes on Wednesday, February 17. The first service is at 12:15–1:15 p.m. The second service is 6:00–7:00 p.m. with a soup and bread supper following the liturgy. All are welcome to come. I will be attending the service in the evening. Our church is on Printer’s Row, 637 S. Dearborn, right next door to Kasey’s Tavern, and our sanctuary is on the second floor.

Tonight we say good-bye to the alleluias. This hymn from The Saint Helena Breviary helps us to tuck them away until Easter.

Alleluia, song of gladness,

hymn of endless joy and praise.

Alleluia is the worship

that celestial voices raise

and, delighting in God’s glory,

sing in heaven’s courts always.

Alleluia, blessed Salem,

home of all our hopes on high.

Alleluia, sing the angels;

Alleluia, saints reply;

but we, for a time on this earth,

chant a simpler melody.

Alleluias we now forfeit

in this holy time of Lent.

Alleluias we relinquish

as we for our sins repent,

trusting always in God’s mercy

and in Love omnipotent.

Blessed Trinity of Glory,

hear your people as we pray.

Grant that we may know the Easter

of the Truth, the Life, the Way,

chanting endless alleluias

in the realms of endless day. Amen.

A huge thank you to Bosco at Liturgy for having it all typed out, so I wouldn’t have to do it. Bosco also posted a Shrove Tuesday mediation.

Procrastinating on Your Lenten Discipline?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Am I the only one procrastinating on choosing a Lenten discipline? To be honest, I’ve been procrastinating on writing this article most of the day. I tweeted that I was going to write this blog post around 11:30 this morning, and I’m just now starting it at almost 6:00 p.m. I figured I wasn’t the only one dragging my feet on choosing something to do or give up for Lent, so here are a few of things I’ve thought of.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina means divine reading. It is a slow meditative reading of a passage of the Bible or a spiritual book. There are three movements of lectio divina: meditation (meditatio), prayer (oratio), and contemplation (contemplatio).

  • Meditation/meditatio: Read the passage three times out loud, slowly. The first time simply read through. The second time be aware of any words that pop out at you. The third time read until you reach the place that spoke to you on the second reading. Ask yourself: Why does this stand out? What is it saying to me? Why is the Spirit bringing this to my attention? Mull it over.
  • Prayer/oratio: Take whatever you find to Godde in prayer. Whether it’s gratitude, sorrow, joy, or repentance, pray about what the passage has said to you, and your response to it.
  • Contemplation/contemplatio: Choose a word from your reading or prayer that best expresses your experience during meditation and prayer. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Spend a few minutes in silence, listening to Godde. If your mind wanders silently say the word you chose.
  • If you want, journal your lectio experience.

Online resource: Garden of Grace

The Daily Examen

The Daily Examen is a thoughtful look at the day to see how we saw and responded to Godde’s grace through what we did, our responses to the people we met though the day, and our emotions. says

The Daily Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and discern [God’s] direction for us. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that can help us see God’s hand at work in our whole experience.

Here is one way of practicing the Daily Examen from Ignatian Sprituality:

  • Become aware of God’s presence.
  • Review the day with gratitude.
  • Pay attention to your emotions.
  • Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
  • Look toward tomorrow. has many different examens listed at their site.

The Daily Office

The Daily Office is praying through the day. Prayers are said in the Morning, at Noon, in the Evening, and at Night (before bed). In the longer offices of Morning and Evening Prayer two or three psalms are said or chanted, one or two passages of Scripture are read, then there  is time for prayers. In the shorter offices of Noon and Night (or Compline) a short psalm or a portion of a psalm is read or chanted and two or three verses of Scripture are read before prayers.

Two places you can pray the Daily Office online are at The Online Book of Common Prayer (click Daily Office on the menu) and Mission St. Clare. Mission St. Clare has the hymns in each office in karaoke so you can sing along. Fun!

If you’re like me and can’t pray on the computer, you can order the Book of Common Prayer* from Amazon, along with Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours.* If you want a Daily Office that is gender inclusive, The St. Helena Breviary: Personal Edition* is wonderful.


Hospitality is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. Jesus liked to eat with people (especially people he wasn’t supposed to eat with) a lot. Jesus instituted Communion during the family meal and celebration of Passover. Early Christians gathered together to eat and share their resources with one another. Early in our history we started feeding people who couldn’t feed themselves. One of the most basic practices of Christians is feeding each other and feeding other people. I know, I know, a lot of people fast or give up a certain food group for Lent, but giving up food has never been a spiritual discipline for me.  Probably because I grew up with the skinnier-is-better and the “Diet! Diet! Diet!” culture, I just cannot consider giving up food to be a spiritual discipline (also my birthday always falls during Lent, and I’m eating my meat and cake!). If fasting is your thing, then go for it. However, I do make a suggestion: put aside the money you saved not buying sweets, pop, or meat, and at the end of Lent, give the money to a food pantry or homeless shelter. This is a personal preference: I much prefer to add something than just give up something for Lent.

Back to hospitality and food. If, like me, you like to feed people and feel it’s an important part of your spirituality here are two ways to practice hospitality during Lent:

  • Invite friends and family over for meals at your home. Decide how many times you want to provide hospitality during Lent. Then start meal planning and inviting.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food pantry to help feed the hungry people in your community. Provide hospitality to those who need it the most.

A last resource that has all of these disciplines plus more is Marjorie J. Thompson’s Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life.* It’s a good resource that you will go back to again and again.

I hope this helps you in deciding a discipline to bring you closer to Godde during Lent. Do you have anything to add to the list? What are thinking of giving up or adding for Lent? I’m leaning toward Lectio Divina myself. It’s been a long time since I practiced it, and it has always been one of my favorites.

*Affliate links

The Great Litany

Tomorrow I will lead our church in chanting the Great Litany. Many Episcopal churches chant The Great Litany on the first Sunday in Lent. What is The Great Litany? Chantblog has the answer:

An intercessory prayer including various petitions that are said or sung by the leader, with fixed responses by the congregation. It was used as early as the fifth century in Rome. It was led by a deacon, with the collects led by a bishop or priest. The Litany was the first English language rite prepared by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It was first published in 1544. Cranmer modified an earlier litany form by consolidating certain groups of petitions into single prayers with response. The Litany’s use in church processions was ordered by Henry VIII when England was at war with Scotland and France. It was printed as an appendix to the eucharist in the 1549 BCP [Book of Common Prayer]. The Litany was used in each of the three ordination rites of the 1550 ordinal, with a special petition and concluding collect. The 1552 BCP called for use of the Litany after the fixed collects of Morning Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The 1928 BCP allowed the Litany to be used after the fixed collects of Morning or Evening Prayer, or before the Eucharist, or separately. The 1928 BCP included a short Litany for Ordinations as an alternative to the Litany. The 1979 BCP titled the Litany “The Great Litany” (p. 148), distinguishing it from other litanies in the Prayer Book.

The Book of Common Prayer online has The Great Litany here. Chantblog has a Youtube video of The Great Litany chanted at St. Barnabas.

I will let you know how it goes. (Which reminds me I probably should run through it again before bed.)

Does you church do anything on the first Sunday of Lent to set the tone for the next 40 days?

Ash Wednesday: The Freedom of Ritual

Today was not a good day. In fact, I’ve been out of sorts most of this month. Mainly because I have not been writing as this blog makes very obvious. I really did not want to go to the Ash Wednesday service. I feel enough guilt and shame. I know that I “have sinned by my own fault. . .by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.” Especially the what I have left undone. Do I really need an additional reminder about what I should be doing that I’m not? Really? But I had to go: I was bringing bread for the soup and bread dinner after the service, and I knew I needed to be there.

I’m very glad I went. As we were praying the Litany of Penitence, I felt a great peace come over me, and I acknowledged that I was a human and that means that I am going to fail, make mistakes, and even choose outright rebellion to what God has called me to do, which is to say, sin. It was not only a peaceful, but humbling thing, to admit that “From dust I have come and to dust I will return”; to confess my sins with my fellow brothers and sisters and accept God’s forgiveness. It was also a recognition that I am not the only one falling short of God’s calling. We, as a community, have fallen short. I could feel the forgiveness not just for myself, but for our community, as prayed. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I can say yes to God. Tomorrow we can obey God and better build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

I have decided what my Lenten disciplines will be this year: I am going to practice centering prayer, and I’m going to write in this blog. My 40 days of Lent will be spent in quiet with God and talking to you.

Also stop by Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka where Mark shared his Ash Wednesday experience. (And yes, you will find the translation for his blog name if you go and read.)

For those interested in praying the Daily Office, the Episcopal nuns of Mission St. Clare have everything you need including karaoke versions of chants and hymns. I also post Vespers Monday–Friday at Street Prophets.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (From The Book of Common Prayer.)

Related Posts:

Ash Wednesday Reflections
Lenten Disciplines: Fasting

Lenten Thoughts and Practices

Ash Wednesday Reflections

Today I read three wonderful articles on Ash Wednesday:

At The Episcopal Cafe Sam Candler reminds us that some of the most fertile and rich soil comes from ashes in Ashes and Wine:

But today, I propose another meaning for these ashes. Out of these ashes, these signs of our mortal nature, comes something else. Once we recognize our own responsibility for wrongdoing, once we acknowledge our mortal and dusty nature, the ashes also become a sign of fertility.

If we are truly repentant, and truly cleansed, and open to the reality of God around us, then we are also fertile, ready to give growth to greatness.

Out of seven years worth of ashes on the island of Madeira came one of the finest wines of that time. There is no way the wine could have been produced without the burning, without the ashes. In fact, it was the burning that cleared the ground in the first place.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are, likewise, the burning and clearing of our Christian lives. We enter a time for confession, for penitence, for realization of our earthly nature. But this is also a fertile day, a time for self-examination and self-preparation. Today is getting us ready for something.

In The Artful Ashes Jan Richardson shared what she discovered when she took a project where she learned to draw in charcoal (if you are not reading The Painted Prayerbook regularly, I highly recommend you subscribe to her feed):

Taking up a new medium, entering a different way of working, diving or tiptoeing into a new approach: all this can be complex, unsettling, disorienting, discombobulating. Launching into the unknown and untried confronts us with what is undeveloped within us. It compels us to see where we are not adept, where we lack skill, where we possess little gracefulness. Yet what may seem like inadequacy—as I felt in my early attempts with charcoal—becomes fantastic fodder for the creative process, and for life. Allowing ourselves to be present to the messiness provides an amazing way to sort through what is essential and to clear a path through the chaos. To borrow the words of the writer of the Psalm 51, the psalm for Ash Wednesday, it creates a clean heart within us.

Ash Wednesday beckons us to cross over the threshold into a season that’s all about working through the chaos to discover what is essential. The ashes that lead us into this season remind us where we have come from. They beckon us to consider what is most basic to us, what is elemental, what survives after all that is extraneous is burned away. With its images of ashes and wilderness, Lent challenges us to reflect on what we have filled our lives with, and to see if there are habits, practices, possessions, and ways of being that have accumulated, encroached, invaded, accreted, layer upon layer, becoming a pattern of chaos that threatens to insulate us and dull us to the presence of God.

I love to chant, and I recently discovered chantblog. For those of you who love to chant here are the Lauds and Vespers hymns for Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I have yet to settle on a Lenten discipline, although I am thinking of making more room for silence in my life. What are thinking about during this Lent? What needs to be added to your life? What could you do without?