This morning, snow flakes were falling, covering the ground…and this is supposed to be the first day of Spring??!! I remember, as a kid, hearing that you’re supposed to actually be able to balance an egg on end on this day, the spring equinox.
Today, we begin the Spring season and are over half way through the liturgical season of Lent. Did you know that the word “Lent” can be translated as spring? It is said to come from the old English term for “the lengthening of days,” a.k.a. Spring.
As we await the renewal of the land with disappearing snow, green grass, and budding trees, we hope also for the renewal of our hearts as we prepare to commemorate our Lord’s passion and ultimately His resurrection, ascension, and sending of the Holy Spirit. Did you know, that through our Lenten time of penance, we unite ourselves “each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert (ccc 540)?
So, how do we cooperate in the renewal of our hearts? The Catechism mentions “spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works)” as fitting practices for this time. Lent is a time of penance, of conversion (1438). St. Francis encourages us to this conversion throughout the year. Our Rule exhorts us: “Let them deny themselves (cf. Mt. 16: 24) as each has promised the Lord.” As Franciscan Religious, we are actually “called to make greater efforts in [our] observance of the precepts and counsels of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ch. !)
I teasingly asked a visitor today: “Did you order this snow?” He answered that we really do need the moisture. His positive, grateful response resonates with the words of a familiar song for the beginning of Lent, “Ashes:”
Then rise again from ashes,
let healing come to pain;
Though spring has turned to winter,
and sunshine turned to rain.
The rain we’ll use for growing…