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“I offer this simple book as an aid to prayer in the journey through Lent..
..let us accompany each other with prayer.”

– Father Michael Kane, Parish Priest, Saint Augustine’s Church

We tend to think of the lockdown in a very negative way – how, we wonder, can anything good come from such a time as this? And yet good can come from all things, even the darkest and most bleak. After all, is this not the very message of the Church to which we belong – that the radiant light of Easter comes precisely from the darkness of Good Friday?

Our main issue with lockdown is the isolation it brings in its wake – people are, by nature, social creatures, but the lockdown keeps us apart from each other. And so we have had to find new ways to ‘gather’ and to ‘engage’. While all of us are doing this at the individual level, it is also happening at a broader level, including within the Church.

One fine example of this is a small prayer book called ‘Living Lent At Home – a simple prayer companion for the season of Lent’. Produced by Father Michael Kane and the parish of Saint Augustine in Coatbridge, in the Diocese of Motherwell, Scotland, this lovely book contains beautiful prayers composed by Father Francis McGachey, currently Priest In Residence at Saint Augustine’s. Everyone familiar with Father McGachey from his time as Guardian of the national shrine to Our Blessed Lady at Carfin Grotto will know already that he produced some lovely booklets in those days, and so it is a delight to see his work continuing now.

‘Living Lent At Home’ provides the individual or the family with a robust path of prayer and devotion to follow throughout the season of Lent, in this year where – like last year also – Lent will be celebrated in the ‘domestic church’ of the home. The structure of the book is very straight-forward. It begins with Ash Wednesday and a liturgy for the distribution of ashes at home; this liturgy includes a psalm and readings from the Old and New Testaments, with a text from the Gospel. This is followed by the prayer for the blessing and distribution of the ashes and then a Universal Prayer encompassing various needs. For each day after this, a broadly similar structure is maintained, offering a Gospel reading and a prayer. The prayers are simple and to the point, designed to make us think carefully about the Gospel message and our calling as Christians. Included in the book are similar readings and prayers for Holy Week. Thoughtfully, the books also includes Gospel passages for the solemnities which will fall during the season of Lent, those of Saint Joseph and of the Annunciation. The books concludes with a ‘Short Stations Of The Cross’, brief enough to be used even by the busiest amongst us whilst still offering depth and real meaning.

This little book is exceptionally well-produced on glossy paper – it is not something you are likely to discard once Lent has passed.

It is incredibly generous for a parish to produce something of this quality and to give it away free – even more so, that the offer was extended to those outwith the parish. It was because of this that I was able to call in this morning and pick up a copy, for which I am very grateful. I will certainly put this little book to good use and I offer my thanks to all who were invovled in producing this lovely work. I pray that this book will achieve what it sets out to do – to be ‘an aid to prayer in the journey through Lent’ and to ‘let us accompany each other in prayer’.

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