Lent 2017

Lent 2017

For monks, we celebrate the Lenten Spring as a time to welcome the new life of Jesus’ resurrection and all the ways God is inviting us to new life in Him. So with everyone else we receive ashes as an outward sign of taking up inward movement toward reconciliation. God calls us to a self knowledge which doesn’t turn away from our need for conversion, for honest assessment of where we are in embracing our commitment of faith and the welcome of the grace being offered to help us change – a behavior, an attitude, a way of thinking. Lent 2017As clay in the hands of the potter (Jeremiah 18) we pray so as to remain malleable (prayer is then like water on the dry and rigid clay) so God may fashion us anew. Saint Bernard comments on God’s desire to give us hearts of flesh in place of our hearts of stone (Ezekiel 32). First, you have to realize / recognize that your heart has hardened. The self reflection cultivated in silence and following Jesus to the desert to be alone with the Father in prayer is a spiritual work born of a resolve to be pleasing to God who loves us into being, loves us in our frailty weakness and sin, mercifully loving us beyond into a refinement that is our cooperation with God’s initiatives. Lent for a monk can be like preparing ground for seed, like cultivating and nurturing what is sown, and cautiously protecting and encouraging the new growth. So as the Rule of Saint Benedict prescribes, the abbot gives each monk a book for Lenten reading (usually we suggest what book we believe will be helpful). And each evening after Vespers (ends at 6:30) until Compline (begins at 7:35, the monks gather in Church to read in each others encouraging presence (or wherever it may behest to read). We eat bread and water for the Noon Meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, abstain from desserts through Lent and try to offer whatever additional discipline is appropriate. We make the extra effort to maintain a silence that encourages mindfulness of God with the corresponding attentive listening to God. In Lent we pray for all our sisters and brothers that the journey to Easter will truly be a celebration of God bringing about new life in us!