By Sister Margaret Hoffman, SND
"A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me." – Psalm 51
Stoking our fire. "Renew" is the keyword in the psalmist’s entreaty. Lent is time to take stock of our lives. Jesus reminds us "I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled." (Luke 12:49) The ritual of ashes at the beginning of Lent reminds us to stop and think: Where are we going and why. Do we sometimes lose our way? Is it time to stoke our fire?
Almsgiving, prayer and fasting are the traditional Lenten practices. The liturgies are rich in words of repentance for sins and failings, of entreaty for God’s grace, and of confidence that it will be given. Lent also has a strong communal dimension linking our need for repentance and hope to others, especially to those in greatest need in our world.
Fasting can take many forms. One suggestion comes from Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light for a carbon fast. The Environmental Outreach Committee of the Archdiocese of Washington makes this fasting easy by providing a daily Lenten carbon fast calendar with helpful suggestions.
This year we might walk with Haitians as they struggle to rebuild their lives. We might keep their needs before us in our almsgiving; pray for orphaned children to be safe from traffickers; be mindful of the ongoing struggles for adequate food, medicine and housing, and be aware of the long road ahead of them for the rebuilding and reconstruction of their nation.
Whatever ways we choose to honor Lent, our journey leads us to the Cross and then ultimately to the triumph of the Resurrection. Let us pray for one another that this journey touches our hearts. May we move from the ritual of ashes to the joyful lighting of the Easter fire at the Vigil!
your desire is to set the earth on fire
with your love
You call us to warm ourselves
You invite us from the darkness into the light
May the warmth of your love
fill us during this beautiful season of Lent
and prepare us for your Resurrection.