Have a blessed Lent

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Have a blessed Lent

On Ash Wednesday and in anticipation of Lent, I’m reminded of the culmination of that faith journey in the Easter Vigil. In our tradition the Prioress carries the Paschal Candle lighted by the new fire in silent darkness down the aisle through the waiting assembly. She stops three times singing, “Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord” and the assembly responds, “Thanks be to God!” Small candles are ignited, radiating outward, to build a warm glow that gently illuminates the faces of the Sisters and guests. 

But that’s not how it happened during my first year as Prioress. Anxious to sing the melody perfectly on successively higher pitches, I moved forward quickly, not stopping as practiced and arrived in pitch darkness at the front of the chapel, with the taper bearers valiantly trying to catch up to me to correct my error. As I remember this event with a smile, I’m sure there is a lesson in this story, and I hope I’m not stretching it too much to tell you what occurs to me especially as we move ahead into a year that surely started with a lot of darkness in our country. 

It is this: remember, you carry the light of Christ within you. Slow down now as we emerge from our darkness and share that light with others. Don’t let anxiety or any other fear or concern, that you are not good enough, or that your voice is not perfect, prevent you from passing on the Light of Christ to others. Don’t let fear prevent you from responding to the call from within. Don’t be so focused on what’s happening inside you that you are blind to what is going on around you. Share the Light of Christ with others. We all need the glow that comes from each other, one by one, passing the light on, lighting up our lives with hope, awe, joy. Share the wonder of faces seen once again and rejoice in the small gestures of love for each other and the triumph of things that go well.  Look for the good and be grateful.

We carry the lamp of Christ with us daily and we can choose to have that lamp ready, with the oil of compassion for those who have so much less or struggle with isolation and fear, or who just don’t recognize their own giftedness. We can be “models of faith” for those who suffer from the effects of the pandemic, racism, and violence. We can educate ourselves and then let our voices be heard, rather than stand silently in the darkness. We can advocate for what is right and just. As we move through the season of Lent and prepare for the great solemnity of Easter, the center of our Christian faith, I hope some of this reflection resonates with you, but feel free to ponder this story and fashion your own interpretation. Find your voice to sing, “Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord…Thanks be to God!”

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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict