But most outstanding in my memory is how I used to rouse my three sons early in the morning so we could begin the Lenten season with 6:45am mass on Ash Wednesday before they were off to public school. "Mom, do we always have to be the only kids in school with ashes first thing in the morning?" And best of all, I remember the picture of my youngest son Andrew taken by a local newspaper photographer covering the parish liturgy. Andrew, about 5 or 6 years of age, is leaning on his hands while resting them on the back of the pew in front of him, his big blues eyes looking up and taking it all in. The picture appeared on the front page of the paper that afternoon!
Here at Mother of Perpetual Help Monastery we had a Mardi Gras supper last night to which we invited the Redemptorist priests from Mt. St. Alphonsus Retreat Center. It was a feast of pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit salad and King's cake (a New Orleans tradition). After the meal we watched through the dining room windows as last year's palms were burned into ashes in a small fires outdoors in preparation for today's rite. On this note and with the lights already dimmed our revelry came to an end in prayful singing of Ave Regina Caelorum.
This is a subdued time in the monastery. An already quiet and peaceful atmosphere becomes even more so as we make the commitment to sink even more deeply into silence and solitude, as if wishing to dissolve into the Paschal Mystery. My wish is to slide effortlessly into the depths, to become one with the Beloved, to know Him ever more intimately so as to experience His glory as we emerge together.