A Lenten Reflection – Ash Wednesday 2019
The First Reading for Mass on Monday and Tuesday of the 8th Week of Ordinary Time, the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, were taken from the Wisdom Scriptures found in the Book of Sirach, Chapter 17:20-24 and 35:1-12. These verses are filled with solid advice that certainly spoke to me. The sacrifices, small as these may be, are pleasing to God. One sentence struck me especially: “The Lord is one who always repays and he gives back to you sevenfold.”
On Ash Wednesday we heard from the Prophet Joel the invitation: “return to me with your whole heart…” The directives of praying, fasting and almsgiving are well-known and preachers and fundraisers extend “invitations” to put these into action at least during the 40 Days of Lent by supporting a special project with charitable contributions and/or prayers for success. Another familiar Scripture passage says: “God loves a cheerful giver!”
The Lenten appeal and acknowledgement message coming from the mission office brings another aspect of the Lenten journey to mind when I quote from a verse from the Rule of St. Benedict found in Chapter 49 “On the Observance of Lent” where Benedict says: “…and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”
It took me many years of my monastic journey to grasp this “positive advice” for Lent. For many years the word Lent had a sour aftertaste with rules and regulations I had difficulties accepting. Finally, I was given the grace of understanding. Joy is a keyword for the journey. Joy transforms – joy empowers – joy eases the burden of daily living.
Therefore let me wish you a joyous, blessed and grace-filled Lent! On Easter Sunday let us unite our prayers and voices in a joyous Alleluia as we celebrate the Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection of Jesus!
Bro. Tobias, O.S.B.
P.S.: The ministry of “fundraiser” takes courage in asking for help. Please check out our Current Appeal on the website at www.missionmonks.org. You know how far you can stretch your financial resources to make a charitable contribution. We in turn keep the solemn promise to remember you in daily prayer