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'Generosity' and not 'self-improvement' the key to a good Lent, says Justin Welby at St Paul's

Lent is not 'a narcissistic festival of self-improvement', but must 'overflow in generosity’, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said in the first of a series of Lent and Easter events at St Paul's.

Speaking at Reflection: A Good Lent, part of the St Paul's Forum's Passion and Resurrection series on Thursday 19 February, Justin Welby pointed to silence and the escape from the often over-powering modern world as the basis for reflection during this holy season.

In a wide-ranging conversation with the Cathedral's Chancellor, Canon Mark Oakley, The Archbishop spoke of our modern view of Lent as a time to give something up, calling us to do more than just give up eating biscuits.
His main message to the audience was that of the importance of listening and taking time to sit in silence. Instead of thinking of ourselves and what we can gain from Lent, he told us to sit and listen to God, contemplate the world and enjoy the silence. Canon Oakley added: "You need silence when you're reading the Bible so that you can read the love between the lines."
The Archbishop pointed out that in a world dominated by social media with a constant emphasis on ‘me’ and during our hectic daily lives, it can be difficult to stop and take a moment to sit and contemplate. He told the audience, which filled the area under the Cathedral's dome, that we can forget or neglect to give time to God and those around us, getting caught up instead in ourselves and our lives. He noted that Lent’s modern emphasis on giving something up does not help this issue. However, by taking a moment to sit in silence and listen, we could break this cycle.
The 90-minute talk gave clear pointers as to how we can make Lent a more Christ-filled, loving time. The Archbishop suggested that we read a chapter, or small section, of Luke’s Gospel each day and take time to sit and ask ourselves: what does it say?, what does it mean?, and what should I do about it?
Audience questions were varied and delved into matters or politics, money, truth and fasting. The Archbishop gave thoughtful, practical responses to all. When asked how these thoughts could impact politicians, he answered: "Politics needs to contain the capacity to listen to one another."
The main message of The Archbishop’s talk was that a Good Lent begins and ends with listening. By following his simple advice, we can all try and make this Lent, A Good Lent.

The Passion and Resurrection series continues on Thursday, 19 March, when Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford discusses Passion: A Good Holy Week