A reflection on Lent given to the community of nuns by Mother Maria Michael Newe, OSB.
During Lent, as our chaplain told us, we have a joyful sorrow and a sorrowful joy. People who are truly immersed in Christ experience even their sorrows as joy because they’ve learned to share them with Christ. Lent is truly a call to renewal, a call to renew our relationship with Christ. The Church always needs to be renewed, and how much more do we personally. We want to live fervent, good lives for Christ. Regardless of anything else that happens in life, we must pursue Him in love. We have to love Him sincerely, because love is the only thing that makes us go forward. It’s the only thing that ties us in difficult situations. It’s the only thing that burns clear in our heart. It draws us to Him who is the source of all love.
In the Rule of St. Benedict, we find the reason for our following Christ, the reason for taking up the sweet yoke. For us, the yoke is the Rule. In the prologue of the Rule it says, “Hearken O my child to the precepts of the master and incline the ear of your heart. Willingly receive and faithfully comply to the admonitions of your loving father that thou mayest return by the labor of obedience to Him from whom thou hast departed by the sloth of disobedience.” That word sloth reminds us of the times we haven’t followed faithfully, the times we slack off and say, “Do I really have to follow the rule that closely? Do I really have to love my sister that much? Do I really have to obey God?” These questions are so similar to the question the serpent asked of Eve in paradise. They twist our view just enough to give us an inch of our own will. Lent is a particular time to turn back to God through the labor of obedience-- and that’s obedience on every level. Obedience to the word of God is the main thing. Our lectio divina is one of the most important points of our life. It is part of the Work of God for it is when He gives His word to us and we our prayer back to Him is in the Divine Office. We pray back to Him the words He’s given us that there may be a dialogue between Heaven and Earth at all times.
Finally, let’s not forget the spontaneity of the Spirit. That should not lack in lent. There’s a spontaneity which calls us forth to do what is present before us, to love spontaneously, to serve spontaneously, to give spontaneously. We all know in Lent that we are called to look deeper into our lives. St. Benedict has in the Rule the question that we are to continuously ask ourselves: “Why did you come?” For what reason do you live this life? For what reason are you here? Renew that desire to be here. When we do that, no one can take away the joy from our hearts. Love impels us. Love consumes us. We should be consumed by love.