Entering the Season of Lent

A Lenten Reflection from Prioress Phyllis McMurray, OSB

This is the season of Lent and seed catalogs. As we approach the spring of the year, gardeners make choices as they prepare for a thriving garden. During Lent we make choices that prepare us to celebrate more fully the mystery of our Redemption.

Those of us who like to garden, whether amateurs or master gardeners, browse through seed catalogs and pictures of flowers which help us visualize the glorious array of foliage and color we would like to create by the choice of seeds we purchase. We know it will take time to plant, water and nurture the seeds before we get to our goal. We wonder if the severe winter has damaged the roots of the perennials we so carefully planted and cared for last year. What will it take to bring them back to wholeness? What type of soil and fertilizer will we need to make our plants strong and healthy?

Lent is a time for us to take stock of how we have come through our own winters. Are our roots healthy and firmly embedded in Christ? How do we nurture the soil of our lives so that we become stronger and more whole?

Benedict was wise in recognizing that we do not have the strength to make our lives a continuous Lent. However, he gives us some instruction on how to enter more fully into this season. Reflection on RB 49, “The Observance of Lent,” can assist us in choosing our Lenten practices. In vs. 6, Benedict says: “During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his/her own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit. (1 Thess 1:6).”

It is interesting to note that Benedict expects us to offer our practice “with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” In the Eucharistic Liturgy on Ash Wednesday, we pray with the psalmist: “A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Give me back the joy of my salvation and a willing spirit sustain in me.” (Ps. 51:12,14)

A lovely garden brings us great joy. Yet, what greater joy do we have than the knowledge of God’s saving grace through his passion, death and Resurrection? Let us prepare well during this Lenten season so that our joy may be full.

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