ashen renewal

I am excited to celebrate life; Lent is here and it’s such a good time.  I am totally pumped to grow and learn.  A little while ago, while working in our “Loving God” unit, my students and I discussed how sacrifice is an essential element of Christian living. Personally, I am ready to give up and give the filth of my sin over to God.  Like suffering, sacrifice is sacred, and unites me with God’s mystery. I love it, and I want to live it.

Today, I’m rolling around in the filth of my sin and hoping for a great ashen renewal.  It could be disgusting, but it’s exciting.  The excitement of today, Ash Wednesday, is sort of like a pep rally that gets a team ready for victory.  It’s kind of like a surprise birthday party, or a rock festival. It’s all of those things, and more. Our prayer and our repentance shall magnify the meaning of the metaphors in our living.

I have been looking forward to this season and the promise of ashes smeared on our faces.  Perhaps I needed an excuse to refocus.  Maybe I needed a reason to recover.  Certainly, I need to turn away from my broken, ugly ways that distract me from relating to God and God’s children.  This gospel living stuff is so messy. I so often feel like I am flailing around, hitting myself and others. Now I pause, allow the bruises to heal, and regain my coordination.

Plus, this time is very exciting because it’s time to get reconnected with my brothers and sisters who are also broken.  We are all broken and it’s in a holy sort of way. Because of our brokenness we desperately need each other.  As we relate, we unite.  I try to remain aware about the part I play in the suffering – and healing – of others all the time, but it seems to me that others are more open to hearing about all the injustice of poverty when they are facing their own brokenness.  So, I am glad that Lent provides the opportunity for us all to deepen our global awareness.

If we’re going to spend 40 days in a desert, we won’t survive with nothing!  Fortunately, as we journey through the sacred season, we have all sorts of tools to assist us. Catholic Relief Services offers great opportunities for daily prayer, fasting and alms-giving that help us live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in economically impoverished countries.  Busted Halo amuses me with a daily Lenten calendar that could win you a free Ipad.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers a variety of background information, plus opportunities for prayer and service.  Obviously my tools are very Catholic. That’s part of being a nun.

As you enter into the season, I invite you consider the same questions that my students were asked to respond to in class today:

What are you giving up for Lent?

What are you doing to grow closer to God this Lent?

Lent is a season of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving.  How do these actions create good Christian moral living?

God bless you, and all your Lenten renewing!! Peace!

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