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Lenten Reflection: Hope for the life of the world

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Lenten Reflection, Ash Wednesday 2021

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. (Ephesians 1:17–18)

Lent: A time to let God retool, renew, redeem our very self, our relationships, our society, our planet. To “let God” means to open ourselves to the Spirit’s work within us, to say, “Yes, this is what I want!” And yet, how hard that “yes” is when faced with decisions, challenges, pain, suffering, tears.

Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau chose our motto: “Ave Crux Spes Unica.” Holy Cross was born and is reborn through our confidence in the cross as our only hope. We believe that the cross is more than a dead piece of wood that we bear; it is a living thing, a new tree of life that is planted in our lives. As we allow this tree of the cross to take root and to grow in our lives, it begins to bear fruit, giving us new, abundant life.

In that process of transformation, one’s capacity to “see” expands so that dialogue, understanding and reverence for difference come into focus. Over time one wants to change behavior and respond, rather than react, to difficult situations. One listens and speaks from one’s contemplative heart.

To paraphrase from Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti: A Congregation flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components … (FT 199, 203). Our diversity is a gift from our Creator Father.

With confidence and faith in God’s transforming action in our lives, let us enter Lent with joy and openness to listen deeply to the Spirit’s voice within and around us.

Reflection questions

• What brings hope to my heart as I enter into the “yes” of Jesus to his Father during this time of Lent? What am I seeking?

• Read Chapter 6 of Fratelli Tutti. How can I grow in listening and dialogue with others during this Lent?

• How is the cross taking root in my life and heart?

—Sister Mary Elizabeth Bednarek, CSC, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Ash Wednesday prayer

February 17, 2021

May you receive this time of prayer as …

A call to enter our own hearts, our hearts as a local community, and the all-inclusive heart of our world society.

An invitation for each of us to live in this sacred time, that we may deepen our desires and actions for our continual and constant transformation.

An opportunity for each community to pause and prepare for this spiritual journey.

Part 1: Opening mantra (Sing softly, three to four times)

Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
Brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound.

Or “Ubi Caritas” (or another song in your choice of language)

Part 2: Pray together

O God of light and hope, open us to your divine spirit to examine sincerely and humbly our lives, our day to day gestures, attitudes, temptations and limitations.
After a few moments of silence, share spontaneous petitions and expressions of pardon and forgiveness.

Part 3: Let us renew our Lenten intentions of…

Prayer, embracing a more sensitive solidarity with all humanity and creation.
Fasting, from any personal fragilities of violence, injustice, indifference.
Almsgiving, as a community, offering and realizing a concrete action or project to alleviate a need in your local reality.

Part 4: Each sister can use her own words or creativity to express her Lenten resolution.

Part 5: Final prayer or song of your choosing

Part 6: Blessing

May God bless and inspire all of us, individually and congregationally, to live this Lent with new light, greater wisdom, and a more sensitive love.

—Shared by Sisters Eleanor Snyder, CSC, Elizangela Matos dos Santos, CSC, and Michael Mary (Nolan), CSC, Casa Emaus community, São Paulo, Brazil