Lenten Reflections: Part V – Mary Jane Vigil, OSB continues….
Chapter 49 of the Holy Rule begins with the singular. We are told that each person is to offer something extra to God beyond what is imposed and each one is to deny herself something and reveal what is to be done to the Abbot and in our case the Prioress. At Sunday evening Vespers of the first week of Lent each sister turns in a written resolution to the Prioress. Those resolutions are then used to create the Easter fire at the Vigil service. Every year before Lent we gather as a campus community and discuss what we can do as a total group in the way of fasting, almsgiving and prayer. On reflecting on the traditional Lenten practices I have become mindful of the wisdom of the church’s emphasis on these practices. There is a line in the introduction to the small booklet Daily Reflections for Lent that says, “by paring back, space is created for the invasion of grace. Wherever God finds emptiness and hospitality divine grace will flood our souls. Asceticism’s main goal is not self-denial but opening our self to God’s will. Thus ‘less rather than more’ has spiritual significance.” Benedict tells us that these are ways in which we can “Look forward to Holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.” Since Vatican II the church tells us that these practices are a way of leading us to know our need to be filled with God’s Spirit.
If I were to offer a resolution to God, beyond what was expected, what would it be?
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