Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel

During the past few days, I have been pondering Lent. Why do we always need to think about giving up something for Lent? I prefer to "do" something instead. In my earlier years, I said I would give up candy or desserts or watching TV, but I often could not persevere beyond the first week. This year, I want to open myself to the prophet Joel's words, "Rend your hearts and not your clothing."

In the Monastery, each Sister decides for herself on her own individual Lenten practice. So, this year I would like to read a spiritual book and visit our Sisters at Saint Scholastica Convent three different Sundays. I have been reading Sister Joan Chittister who says that "Lent is a summons to live anew." The way I think of this is something quite positive that allows me to truly succeed in my efforts. To "live anew" means being open to change from within, whereas giving up something seems to be external. I want to change something about myself that will become a good habit.

One of the ways we Sisters give each other opportunity to ponder change during Lent is by keeping silence at breakfast Mondays through Fridays. We carry that silence and quiet into the hallways and common spaces as much as possible during the morning hours. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we enter our dining room for the evening meal in a quiet manner, getting ready to listen to table reading.

We try to keep Benedict's admonition in mind: "The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent," and yet we know these words can be interpreted many ways. Therefore, besides the practice of intentional silence, we do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday nor Fridays during Lent. And on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, no dessert is served at the noon meal. These practices gives us a beautiful balance between the external and the internal, while encouraging an approach of moderation.

How will you rend your heart this Lent 2011?

photo: Sister Pat Kennedy distributes ashes to Sister Karen Streveler at the Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Sacred Heart Chapel on March 9, 2011.

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