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Reflection for Lent

The liturgical period of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

The liturgical period of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The word Lent comes from the Old English ‘Lencten,’ which means spring.

Perhaps I backed myself into a corner when I wrote in my 2016 New Year reflection. I wrote then that I didn’t make New Year resolutions because there are so many occasions during the Catholic liturgical year to begin again. I mentioned Lent as an example.

So, now I am wondering how to explore Lent as an opportunity for a new beginning and not a contest with myself about keeping a resolution? How to practice believing during Lent that these 40 days are about being loved, loving and not about being punished and unloved? How to choose a daily practice or mantra to say daily that would help me let go of an image of God who prefers punishing to loving?

I find for myself that Lent brings out all the “old” images of God and spirituality that I think I’ve let go of in recent years.

Childish thoughts arise unbidden as I attempt to embrace this season with sincerity and authenticity:

• If I give up (fill in the blank) for 40 days, then God will reward me, love me.

• Lent is a time to feel sad and disappointed because I am not perfect.

• Recognizing the love of God for me is not the substance of Lent – that’s Christmas and Easter.

• Lent is hard work – like pulling weeds.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that I want to be and need to be more loving, more courageous, more authentically myself as a daughter of a loving God. This work does require sacrifice, openness to others’ insights about my shortcomings and gifts, and a well-defined set of spiritual practices to become more fully me, more fully the one created by Providence.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind a season of taking a long look at myself in the context of a woman who knows God as loving, wise, patient, all forgiving and always with us. I need to and want to spend time enjoying being a beloved child of God and finding practices, people, readings, natural phenomena that assist me in being an integral part of the force field of God’s loving energy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very sure coming to the place I wish to be is hard work – the hard work of living my baptismal commitment, my vows as a Sister of Providence and my living the love that Jesus modeled, encouraged and described as the “only commandment.”

Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes long for the good old days. Giving up candy is so much easier than loving others and myself – so much easier than believing I swim in the river of God’s unending and ever flowing grace.

Wish me well as I allow God’s grace to envelop, embrace and encourage me so that I may be a mirror of God’s love – an instrument of grace.

I wish you well in celebrating Lent in whatever way makes sense to you as a child of a loving God.

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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4 Comments

  1. Cheryl Casselman on February 10, 2016 at 8:36 am

    “Giving up candy is so much easier than loving others and myself – so much easier than believing I swim in the river of God’s unending and ever flowing grace.” I wish you well during Lent and always, Sister Denise. Thank you.

  2. Mary Hall on February 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Thank You, Sister Denise, for sharing your reflection for lent. You have a way of speaking to my heart and putting my feelings into God’s perspective. It makes me feel better about myself knowing that professed Sisters also struggle from time to time about their feelings and after some discernment come to realize that God is the only answer to all questions.

    I pray God continues to bless you with His wisdom and reflects His love to you often.

  3. Carol Reuss on February 11, 2016 at 6:20 am

    The foolishness of the traditional food fasting rules plays out well right now as we get news of the many who are starving. May we all be creative in our own Lenten practices. Carol Reuss

  4. Maureen Lentz on February 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

    It’s wonderful to read of people striving to become like Christ. The good news he has overcome through his death and resurrection sin and we are overcomer’s too through the power of the Holy Spirit. Your testimony is pure and honest as we put away childish things. Loving others as Christ is our greatest gift! Thank-You

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