Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent...the ultimate "do-over"

I learned about "do-overs" at recess. Our Lady of the Magnificat School excelled in many important areas, but lacked the financial means for a real athletic program. "Gym" was usually "kick-ball" or "tennis-racket baseball" on the blacktop in front of the school building. In bad weather we would endure a deadly game of "dodge-ball" in the auditorium (which was also our Church!) A dear man from the K of C volunteered his time to direct our games. Mostly, we were just happy to be outside, out of our desks and free of the required civilities taught and strongly encouraged by the good Sisters of St. Joseph. I wasn't much of an athlete. I could knock a tennis ball onto the roof if I could get my hands and eyes to work together. The real problem was a lack of focus - a killer instinct. I just didn't have it - hence, my anxious and distracted thoughts. (Who will be the last one picked today? Oh, God, please let it be someone else. I hate running in this skirt. I wish it was lunchtime. Did I bring my milk money? Was that a Yodel Mom put in the lunch box?) Picking me was NEVER a good idea. The only time I felt good at anything was during recess. In good weather the girls played "4 Squares" in front of the school steps. The concrete was perfectly dissected into four equal parts. All you had to do was get the ball into someone else's square and see that it bounced in yours only once. For some reason I excelled at this rather mindless game. It was simple. I was simple. It just fit my easy, "let's just play for fun" attitude. Every now and then, though, there would be disputes. Without a referee or line judges, there would be quibbles over "in" or "out." I think one f the reasons I love the game was the chance to call a "do-over." If agreement could not be reached, we just played the point over again. How nice! No pushing or shoving, no black eyes - that's how the boys settled things. We just called for a "do-over" and there was peace.
Ash Wednesday signals the beginning of Lent - a season created by the Church to prepare our hearts for the great glory of Easter. Today, we are signed with the cross and sent on a journey to holiness/wholeness. This is the first day of the rest of our spiritual journey. How blessed we are to have this liturgical season - a "do-over" that brings new challenges, exciting possibilities and great peace.
Blessings, love... and happy Lent!
- Sister Vicki

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Time to make the doughnuts..."

Whether you call is “Mardi Gras,” “Fat Tuesday,” or “Carnivale,” Catholics everywhere are preparing to welcome the holy season of Lent. I suspect there are doughnuts out at the Monastery, maybe, even a “King Cake.” Folks in New Orleans, Venice and Rio are eagerly anticipating the massive street parties for which these cities have become infamous. Colored beads, romantic masks and lots of feathers are the tell-tale signs that ashes are just around the corner.
Goodness knows I am a fan of celebrations. Benedictines, in general, are quite good at feasting and fasting. The older I get, the more I see them both as redemptive. I look forward to the forty days with joy. I don’t fear the absence of celebration. Sunday is always the feast of GOD’s love for us in gift of Christ Jesus. Always. We make liturgical concessions on Sunday – NO “alleluias” until the rock is rolled away – to remind us that we are celebrating the resurrection within the context of holy Lent. But the Lord's Day is never counted in the 40 days of Lent - do the math and see! The point I’m trying to make is that Lent is a joyful season. It says so in the Preface of the Ash Wednesday liturgy. Listen…and you’ll here it, too.

How will my joy be gift to others this Lent? What should I fast from? What should I fast for? How can I deepen my commitment to prayer? How can I give myself away to those who are in need? These are the questions that occupy my heart today. OK…I guess wouldn’t say, “no” to a "Krispy-Kreme!"

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki