Since joining the Mt Tabor Benedictines in 1985, each Lenten Season I’ve filled out a Bona Opera, (Good Works), a monastic practice throughout the world. As a new monastic, I would find myself trying to go way above what was asked of me. For example, more praying, fasting, alms giving and the hopes that one could start and finish an entire spiritual book before the Lenten Season was over. I should have realized that I would have trouble with doing “additional and or above” as I was already having trouble with doing what was expected.
After 31 years, I hopefully have grown a little wiser as a monastic. I believe that Benedict wanted his followers to be faithful with their prayer, fasting, alms giving and to read spiritual books written by those who have lived monastic life well.
As we begin another Lenten season, I am not looking at what I will give up, or what more can I do, but rather how well do I do with what is given to me, how do I respect each person in my community and beyond, do I follow through on commitments made, do I take time for daily private prayer, reading books that help me become more of who God created me to be and am I present at community prayer? Do I make good use of my down time or do I find myself spending too much time on the computer either playing games or on Facebook?
In “The Telling Takes us Home, the People’s Pastoral Letter it talks about “Practicing Resurrection in places of Crucifixion”. May we be mindful of the crosses of people without work. The crosses of struggling single mothers. The crosses of those suffering from addiction. The crosses of young people who lack hope and a sense of purpose. The crosses of those with mental and physical disabilities, the crosses of those who are scapegoats in their own communities because of their race, ethnicity, or sexuality and the crosses of refugees.
May this Lenten season bring us closer to God and learn to look for what brings us together rather than what divides us. Sr. Kathleen