Thursday After Ash Wednesday
Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Luke 9:22-25
Yesterday the Lord prompted us to embark on the journey of penance and
conversion. We were marked with ashes to remind us of our inner fragility and poverty.
With God’s help, we will arrive at the foot of the Cross where we will be bathed in the
life-giving waters flowing from the pierced side of our savior. This season is a time to be
converted to the very holiness of God. In Chapter 49 of the Rule of St. Benedict
instructs his monks to make use of the opportunity we have during Lent by keeping our
lives most pure and thereby washing away the negligences of other times.
Servant of God, remember
The stream thy soul bedewing,
The grace that came upon thee
Anointing and renewing.
There’s a certain paradox in God’s economy. We lose what we gain, and we gain
what we lose. We must keep our eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified,
and let ourselves be saved over and over again. The life which God offers is abundant,
everlasting life. And the joy which God places in our hearts no sadness or loss can
The Cross dissolves the darkness,
And drives away temptation;
It calms the wavering spirit
By quiet consecration.
The spiritual life includes not only actions but also attitudes. During the season of
lent, we are called to be more attentive to God’s Word. We need to take each text to
heart allowing it to be the rule of our actions and the source of our joy by day and by
night. We give up certain bodily “delights,” so that we can be more available to “delight”
in loving Christ. The implanted word will take root in us and produce a rich harvest,
transforming us into the image of the Redeemer.
When kindly slumber calls thee,
Upon thy bed reclining,
Trace thou the Cross of Jesus,
Thy heart and forehead signing.
Benedict exhorts the monk to add to the usual measure of our service, not just by
bodily mortification, but by drawing closer to God in prayer, by trying to root out bad
habits, and by practicing virtues. Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all
those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. The experience of mercy is
only possible in a personal relationship with the crucified and risen Lord who loved us
and gave himself for us.
To God, eternal Father,
To Christ, our King, be glory,
And to the Holy Spirit,
In a never-ending story. Amen. (Prudentius)