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A Lent Like No Other

March 23, 2020
By Sr. Jeanne O'Rourke

A Lent Like No Other: Turn Isolation into Thanksgiving, Love & Service

We are almost midway through Lent.  What does that mean during this most unusual time?  Our Churches are open, but only for private reflection.  We cannot come together as the worshipping community, the Body of Christ. We cannot receive the gift of Eucharist!  So what does that mean for you and for me?  Perhaps, as a family, we can come together at least once daily to share another form of Eucharist…that is what the word Eucharist means.

THANKSGIVING. Here is the new Lenten challenge:  for whom, for when, for what are we thankful?  Could you or we find at least one reason each day, together, to say: Thank God for… Does this time of isolation and confinement now give us time as a family to gather around the dinner table, to eat together and share our thoughts, feelings, conversation?  Could it be that our God is asking us to slow down, to notice to listen?  I for one, surely ponder this question.

“LOVE one another as I have loved you,” Jesus.  I hear stories even after one week of confinement, people going stir crazy.  Students confined, learning online, no face to face social time.  How can we remain patient and loving in this kind of environment?  I am reminded of the story of the two prisoners.  One looked out and saw mud while the other looked out and saw sunshine or stars.  Loving kindness may well be a challenge.  If we can think globally and how temporary this is for us, perhaps, just maybe this confinement, frustration, worry, can be our prayer for so many who are suffering.  I just read a note from our friend, Sister Marylyn Lacey, Sister of Mercy, Mercy Beyond Borders Director.  In the note she speaks of the students at St. Bakita’s, a boarding school, South Sudan, trying to protect themselves as they sleep three to one bed.  Pray with loving kindness and love beyond ourselves.

SERVICE:  As we look beyond our own household, are there people to whom we can extend a helping hand: grocery shopping, delivering a meal, a phone call or a written message. I include myself in this challenge and what I am realizing that I am making phones calls to folks each day that I ordinarily would not have called. Can limitations on our freedom imposed upon us be transformed into special Lenten offerings like no other we have ever experienced?

Finally, I believe one of the greatest challenges for each of us is to TRUST.  When tempted to be fearful, can we realize that fear comes from the unknown.  None of us knows what is in store for us. We don’t know what to expect from one day to the next. 

During this time when Churches are closed and we are “enclosed” let us pray for open hearts—for trust in God’s loving providence for you, for me, for our country, for our world.

Catherine McAuley’s Suscipe has a line and a prayer that I believe is so appropriate for this time: “Teach me to cast myself entirely into the loving arms of your divine providence.”

Let’s DO IT!