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Let us talk straight as we enter into Lent

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Let us talk straight as we enter into Lent: what do we need? Which specific Word of God shall we echo? On Thursday after Ash Wednesday, we heard: “If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the LORD, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances” (Dt 30:16a). How may I keep God’s commandments? By loving. Charity, friendship, brotherly love, cordiality (with all one’s heart); howsoever we may name it, love will qualify how we live Lent.

We can make an effort to welcome and be well disposed to the others. That was the teaching of the venerable John of Jesus-Mary in a pastoral letter (1611): “In all times, show a tender and brotherly affection to others, tell good about them, empathise as they sorrow, serve them in their needs, be favourable in the interpretation of their words and actions. Excuse even their flaws, conceal what displeases in them, neither do nor say anything which may grieve or bother them. These points of doctrine are of great importance; they may not be forgotten without disavowing perfection. If we follow them faithfully, the spiritual edifice of our Order will grow up high, and he will give glory to God, and gain the salvation of our neighbour”.

Highlighting charity, joyful and patient love, not naïve but deeply benevolent, does not mean we shouldn’t enjoy this Lent period to amend our way of living, and enter in a path of conversion. Let us pay attention to all these little details which testify that we do not live side by side, but form a body, a little “college of Christ”. We hence can experiment God’s presence among us, just as Jesus lived among his apostles. “The community, assembled, realises the mystery of the Church.” (Discalced Carmelite nuns’ Constitutions, n°64). Let us be well aware of this, not only in the choir, but also at the conventual chapter of the monastery, during recreation, at the refectory. Our prayer will then be fruitful, and we will support and help one another on our way towards sanctity. This is an active and concrete charity. That is the charity we beg God to give us during these 40 days of Lent!

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