25/February/2009 Filed in: Chapter Talks
Today an ash cross will be marked on our foreheads to remind us that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Our liturgy will be stark and simple: the beautiful alleluias of other times will be silenced, there will be no musical instrument to sustain the chant, even the flowers will be removed from the oratory. The Lenten fast always comes as a shock to the system. To feel hunger is unusual in our culture, but by tonight we shall begin to recognize that we have eaten less than usual and tempers may be starting to fray. It is at that point that Lent really begins for us, the moment we are forced to recognize that we cannot do things by our own strength. All those laudable schemes to give up this or that or take on something extra to unite ourselves to the Passion of Christ will begin to look, not silly perhaps but certainly a little ambitious. What matters is not what we decide to do for Lent but what we allow the Lord to do with us. St Benedict's teaching is so wise and straightforward. He urges us to lead lives of surpassing purity and make up at this sacred season the negligences of other times but to do so with humility and the joy of the Holy Spirit. Our Lent should be joyful, for it should see Christ being formed anew in us.