On the day when one of our Sisters made Solemn Profession her prioress said to her while everyone was congratulating her and giving her their good wishes, "Welcome to 40 years in the desert! The next important event in your life will be your death!"
She said this with a smile but there were more than a few grains of truth in what she said. For the monastic tradition has sometimes been described as either the "long Lent" or the "desert".
While in most languages, this period of fasting, prayer and penance that we are all about to embark upon is expressed by the number of days— forty—our word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for Spring-fast a word which can envoke so many meanings about a liturgical season which for many people has negative conotations and can seem so depressing!However, without a true Lent it is hard to celebrate Easter in all it's joy and glory.
Spring is about life, growth, newness, joy and beauty. If we look at this time of penance as a Spring-fast perhaps it would be easier to see that in denying ourselves legitimate and good pleasures, in spending extra time in prayer and in doing penance for our sins, that we are preparing for the encounter in the Garden of Eden on the Eternal Day with the Gardener who softly and clearly calls each one of us by name to a relationship of greater intimacy and love!
We are often asked what Lent is like in the monastery. If you're asking that question, too, you can read all about it HERE!
We wish each of you a blessed and grace-filled Spring-fast.
(Photo credit: Dominican Monastery of Matris Domini, Bergamo, Italy