Lent: Discovering Who We Are and Reorienting Our Lives

Joanne Kollasch, OSB Benedictine Bridge, Living in Community Leave a Comment

Our lives are filled with journeys, seeking to find out who we are and what our purpose is.

Describing this inner journey is like describing a landscape. Imagine an expanse of land with great variety: valleys, hills, smooth plains and endless desert. Each of these places can serve as an image that helps us know the inner and outer terrain of our journey. Images also reveal how we feel about where we are. On a given day, in a moment of mindfulness, the many dimensions of our life are like a joyful mountaintop experience or a seemingly endless trek across barren land.

Lent is a time when Christians enter into the desert time of life. It reminds us of our tendency to drift along with the crowd and become lost in every-day trivia. Lent reminds us of our need to reorient our lives by focusing on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here we receive the life-giving practices of prayer, penance and works of charity. The liturgical use of ashes and the prominence of the cross mark the Lenten journey.

Lent needn’t be only liturgical time. We also enter into Lenten time at other seasons of our life. Lent can be the time and place, the when and where in which we find ourselves. Sometimes we’re on the periphery of life where we find no meaning; where we resist being drawn into the center or heart of things where we receive God’s love. Lent is often a time of loss or diminishment of life as we’ve known it.

In writing about creative silence, Thomas Merton uses a phrase that describes Lent for me. In silence we recognize “who we are, who we might be, and the distance between the two”.

Ezekiel awakened to a Lenten place concerning the house of Israel. The hand of God set him down in the middle of a valley full of very dry bones. He walked among the many bones on the floor of the valley. And God asks the human a humanly unanswerable question: “mortal, can these bones live?”

Dear Ezekiel, holy mortal, prophet of God. Did previous experiences and encounters with the Sovereign God prepare you for this desolate scene? How harsh a place! How bitter the reminder of human life, over and finished! Did it all seem so humanly impossible that its resolution was unimaginable?

In this place of death you opened your mind and heart to the presence and power of the Spirit. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of God.” (Ezekiel 37:4)

Are not these words that Ezekiel heard addressed to us also? We know the dry bones of our own life. We know too the valley of death and the seemingly finished lives of countless others surrounding us.

During Lent we ask to hear the Word of God. These words alone bring the life we desire.


Join us for these special Lenten prayer and spirituality opportunities at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Lenten Day of Reflection
March 26, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

Lent is the season of the Christian year when we are invited to enter into a time of solitude, self-reflection, and to renew ourselves in Christian community. Come and gather as community to enter the season of Lent through scripture, prayer, reflection and group dialogue.

Lenten Reconciliation Service & Evening Prayer
March 30, 5:30 pm

Our prayer reflects on God’s mercy and forgiveness and our need for reconciliation.

Holy Week at the Monastery
April 21-24, 2011

This retreat is an opportunity to enter deeply into the liturgical celebration of the Paschal Triduum. Join the Sister’s community and other seekers in the quiet of the monastery to allow the powerful liturgies of this holiest week of the Church year come alive. The rhythm of each day will include Liturgy of the Hours, community meals, prayer, scripture reflection, personal time and the rich liturgies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.

Sunday Assembly Educational Offerings,
after 9:00 am worship

Lent is a time to examine our priorities and take a closer look at where we spend our time and energy, as well as what we need to do (or not do) in order to be faithful to our calling as Christians.  Here at Holy Wisdom Monastery, you are invited to learn more about strengthening your own Lenten observances by attending the following presentations and discussions that will take throughout the Lenten season.

The Power of Forgiveness
March 13 and 20
In asking for forgiveness we are reminded that our God is merciful, compassionate and forgiving, and that we have been called to be that way too.  To forgive those who have harmed us and be forgiven by those whom we have harmed is a powerful lesson in what it means to believe in a forgiving God. Led by Rev. Elaine Hanson-Hysell, these two presentations will include a special DVD presentation that focuses on this important Lenten theme.

The Power of Prayer
March 27 and April 3
Henri Nouwen has said “There are as many ways to pray as there are moments in life. Sometimes we seek out a quiet spot and want to be alone, sometimes we look for a friend and want to be together. . . Sometimes we want to say it with words, sometimes with a deep silence.” Join us for these two sessions which will provide insights and perspectives about a variety of personal and communal prayer practices.

“Beyond our Differences”
April 10
Lent is a time for being open to the transformative nature of God’s grace and to take seriously our responsibility to be peace-makers in a world increasingly polarized because of religious intolerance. This presentation will be led by Jack Davidson and will include a chance to view a powerful and thought-provoking film that explores the role of faith from a variety of spiritual traditions in order to focus on the universal call for peace, tolerance and mutual good.

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