Friday, March 02, 2007

In the Penitential Season

Dawn is crisp and clear today, the sun bathing even the bare brown trees in an orange glow. Mist is rising from the river to kiss the sun. But yesterday morning was a very different story.

Arriving at chapel a little later than usual morning, I was greeted by a sister's concerned voice saying, "The chapel ceiling is leaking but not in the usual places." Here in the northeast a whopper of a storm sailed by leaving an inch of rain in the lower Hudson valley, more than our already ice and snow laden flat roof and frozen downspouts could handle. And this was all just before prayer and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament was to begin. A few buckets and drop cloths later everything went on without a hitch.

These days of recollection are always special for us as contemplative nuns. Making this one even more meaningful was a specially prepared Lenten Penance Service followed by sacramental reconciliation. Readings came from our Rule:

Our penance will consist, above all, in the humble

acceptance of ourselves and of others, in the

renunciations entailed in living according to the

evangelical counsels, in daily work and in the

effort to preserve serenity of soul, whatever the

trials of life, sickness, age and death.

and and the Second Letter to the Ephesians:

...he chose us in him before the foundation of

the world, to be holy and without blemish.

These readings were followed by the Gospel pericope of the anointing at Bethany. Our prioress gave a moving reflection concerning these readings exhorting us to lay at the feet of Jesus all that burdens us, all that binds us and robs us of our freedom to act out of love for ourselves and in love for others. Jesus will see those burdens with love, remove them, forgive us for the times
we have acted out of whatever burdens us; the past, the tapes playing in our heads, our physical problems and disabilities, the wounds we all collect in our lifetimes. She warmly and touchingly encouraged us to remember that we strive to allow Jesus to live fully within us and to respond
to others in recognition that they too have Jesus living in them. In them is the Jesus whom we wish to know, to love and to serve.

In and examination of conscience we asked:

Do we run away from you because of pride, arrogance, or shame?
Have we become jealous of your mercy for those we think don't deserve it?
Are we deaf to your voice because of our need to be perfect, self-sufficient, or right all the time?
Are we too afraid to try what seems impossible?
Do we close our doors to your own people?
Do we carry stony and indifferent hearts, refusing to as for and offer forgiveness?
Do we daily take our blessings for granted?
Do we condemn and crucify others with our words, actions, and failure to act?

After each of these questions we sang, "Jesus, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us."
May God bless us and keep us; may God smile unpon us and be gracious to us; and may God lookupon us kindly, and give us peace. AMEN

Friends, you may have noticed that this post presented me with many seemingly irredeemable difficulties in formatting. The joys of blogging!

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