winterfell by mark hollis

It is still winter.  It is also still Lent – only the first week of Lent!  Ever wonder why we do this over and over?  Each year the Church (the liturgical variety churches including the Catholic) do various seasons – such as Lent.  How many years have I “done” Lent…..Well, I am not telling!  Maybe it’s a repeat because I, and others, are slow learners.  That is true enough.  Maybe some of it is that we are “don’t wanna” learners.  You know, (if you are super honest) don’t you hate “Confession”??  Well, don’t tell me.

There may be some other truths involved here on this repeat of Lent subject – and the whole liturgical year done over and over.  It seems to be worth it all because, personally, I am not in the same place I was last year, or the year before.  During the Lent when I was 10 years old – I was in a very different place than I am now at – well, you get it.  Because we change with the passing years, we can see it all in a different way.  Each passing season of the Church year, there are different riches that I can harvest out of the season.  You could say much the same thing for the passing seasons in the realm of nature.

On a deeper level, Pope (now Emeritus) Benedict XVI once wrote that the purpose of Lent is “…to keep alive in our consciousness and our life the fact that being a Christian can only take the form of becoming a Christian ever anew….”  It is a process requiring constant practice.  He is a wise and holy man!  (quoted in “BENEDICTUS : Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI”, by Magnificat/Ignatius Press)

snow road

snow road (ours) by mark hollis

Welcome dear feast of Lent

Convent Underworld

Convent underworld by Mike Kidd

That from George Herbert.  It is not one of his poems that seems most memorable – except for that first line and in the context of a series of poems up to that point.  It is startling though.  Think of Lent as a “feast?”  Not likely.  Sisters who work in the Chapel will like Lent – for the shear simplicity of it all.  The plants are gone, no flowers, no fuss and the stripped altar….  The Sister in the Kitchen may like it too.  Simple meals.  It is a time to wash the slate of the soul clean and make a fresh start.

Confession.  That’s the name of another Herbert poem.  “O what a cunning guest/ Is this same grief! within my heart I made/ Closets; and in them many a chest;/ And, like a master in my trade,/ In those chests, boxes; in each box, a till:/ Yet grief knows and and enters when he will.”

He’s right.  We like to lock away the “stuff” in nifty little places, our little griefs and bitternesses.  We try to lock it all down in hidden places.  We use the Basement for material “stuff”.  Attics anyone?  Lent is a good time to check out some of our non-material stashes – and to ask Our Lord to help us.  He will, too.  Herbert says God does it with “affliction” but that, with honesty of soul, the “moles” of sin cannot take hold.  “Smooth open hearts no fast’ning have….”  With the Lord Jesus help, we too can have clean hearts.  So, – Welcome dear feast of Lent!



Chaplain by Mike Kidd