It’s been a wonderful day.  I got up early and went to morning Mass at my parish.  Our priest gave a wonderful homily about how Lent is our opportunity to honestly appraise our lives and our sinfulness and to pledge ourselves anew to growing closer to God and surrendering to deep conversion.  He told us that the only reason we should receive ashes upon our heads was that we were willing to make that pledge–that we shouldn’t just receive them just because, or in order to draw attention to ourselves.

I was able to resist the temptation to eat even a little bit during the day.  I put myself and my weakness into God’s strong hands.  I think I was right about my Lenten Lesson this year!

Another sign of confirmation about the Lesson came unexpectedly, during what would have been my lunch break.  I went into our quiet reading room and began reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation; we’re reading it in our book club.  The first essay, “What is Contemplation?” ends on this note:

Hence contemplation does not simply “find” a clear idea of God and confine Him within the limits of that idea, and hold Him there as a prisoner to Whom it can always return.  On the contrary, contemplation is carried away by Him into His own realm, His own mystery and His own freedom.  It is a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow the Word “wherever He may go.”

Emphasis mine.  Because I think that phrase sums up part of my Lenten Lesson: to follow the Lord wherever He may go.  Sort of like… a sheep following its shepherd.  Yes?

I think Merton’s essays will be good Lenten reading!

I intend to make this Lent an especially austere and sacrificial one.  There is just so much in our world that needs our prayer and fasting.  So much to offer up!