---- Forwarded Message ----
From: Mark Caira
Sent: Wed, February 17, 2010 6:58:12 PM
Subject: fror Abbot's blog/ ash Wednesday
Homily for Ash Wednesday 2010
We come to the beginning of Lent, yet again! It doesn’t seem all that long since we began Lent last year. That is often the feeling we have when Ash Wednesday comes round. Perhaps we can’t be blamed too much for that because we find something of that feeling when we read St Benedict’s chapter on Lent. He says that the life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent. But, Benedict continues, because we haven’t the strength for that we should at least keep Lent when it comes round.
However, when Benedict spells out what we should do in these days of Lent, it is not any energy-sapping exercises or heroic deeds he asks of us but such things like devoting ourselves to prayer, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial. These can all be done in ways that are very demanding of human nature. But they are also the stuff of ordinary everyday living. So we can live through Lent doing these things in a quiet and serious manner without them making us drawn or exhausted. To keep doing the right things in life are not arduous in themselves but may well be when we try and do them all the time.
It’s when we are weak or caught off balance that our true character, our Christian pedigree, comes to light. That perhaps is why Benedict asks us to do more ─ to train more, if you like ─ so that our inner selves are tested and strengthened. Then we will the more truly be ready to enjoy the coming of Easter. For, of course, Benedict does not overstate the penitential side of Lent. He does, however, place before us the behaviour he desires of us. He asks of us to listen to his words, take them to heart, and correct what is wrong or sinful in our lives.
As we begin this Lent we recognise its arduous side but also should remember the weakened state of the community’s health. At the present moment we have not really recovered from the bug that has been picking off the community one by one over the past few weeks. In this condition we already look forward to, and pray for the strength and joy of, Easter When that time comes we will surely walk more steadily in the brightness and length of days of Eastertide.
St Benedict is not soft; he is revered for his balance and moderation. Whatever the situation in the monastery, he sees that the little flock that is his community must not be overburdened or the weak broken.
In the end it will be the positive attitude of each of us which will bring us through the desert of Lent happily to the day of resurrection. It is by setting our mind on the goal of Easter and not on the hardships of the journey there, that will make us true disciples of Christ and of Benedict. Let us with joy, therefore, `and with a light heart gird up our loins for the six weeks’ journey to ‘holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing’ (RB 48.7).