I will lead you to the desert
and speak to your heart.”
Lent: an intimately personal yet wonderfully communal journey, a journey “by Him and with Him and in Him” (Eucharistic Prayer A) and to Him. The term “Lent” comes from the Old English term Lencten, meaning “spring”. What a wonderful metaphor to put into perspective what the Lenten journey ought to be. A spring is a refreshing source. During Lent, we are invited to discover afresh the source, the Source. Lent is about encountering the One who most intimately reveals the Source and is Source: Jesus, the Christ. “Whoever sees me, sees the Father.” (John 14:9). And, in this encounter, we are refreshed in ways that surpass understanding.
During Lent we do hear talk of discipline and penitence. These are important, but they are for the sake of love, to express love, and, even more, so to let ourselves be loved. Discipline and penitence are about opening wide the door of our hearts and lives to God, who always takes the initiative in love. “We love because he first loved us”. (I John 4:19)
For our theme this year, let us hear the Lord speak to us through the prophet Hosea. “I will allure her. I will lead her to the desert and speak to her heart.” (2:14) (or respectfully modified for our purposes: “I will allure you. I will lead you to the desert and speak to your heart.”) The prophet Hosea speaks of the relationship between Yahweh and His chosen people in terms of a marriage. Yahweh seeks his bride who has gone astray. The Church is, amongst other things, referred to as the Bride of Christ (cf. Ephesians 5). This means us! We have been spiritually espoused and, at times, we go astray. The Lord finds us. If this is truly to be a relationship, however, we must also let ourselves be found.
This Lent, let us indeed embark, with renewed intention, on a journey of love, to love, to be loved by the One who is love. “God is love”. (I John 4:8) Let us surrender to God, and go to the desert, that is, to that place of quiet—internal and/or external—aloneness, where He can freely speak His love and we can perhaps finally hear…
We have a Lenten calendar of rich offerings of prayer, fellowship, education, and outreach/service for everyone. As the Lord awaits us patiently in the silence, there will be opportunities for silent prayer. Adoration of the Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will take place every Tuesday, at high noon, and Thursday mornings at 6:45 (an amazing way to start the day!).
We have an array of topics being explored—be it at Coffee Hour, on Wednesday evenings after Mass, or elsewhere. One of the topics is forgiveness, a key aspect of the Lenten journey, which will be similarly explored once in Maryland and once in Virginia, in parishioner homes—in order to make participation easier.
We have a wonderful opportunity to serve in love. As throughout the year, parishioners prepare and serve dinner, bi-weekly, at the N Street Village night shelter. Established in 1973 by our neighbor, Luther Place Memorial Church (three blocks away), the Village offers a Wellness Center, a day and night shelter for homeless women, and residential programs for women fighting alcohol and drug addition and for elderly women suffering from mental illness. During Lent, we will serve on February 29 and March 8. If you would like to participate, please contact Chuck Bass via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, February 20, we will have a Lenten Quiet Day at St. Anselm’s Abbey, here in Washington: “I will allure you. I will lead you to the desert and speak to your heart.”
Friday evenings, there will be Stations of the Cross. Midway through Lent, March 4, Stations will be somewhat more “elaborate” with extended reflections and meditative music by our Choirmaster, Owen Burdick.
And, of course, do not forget the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Jesus awaits us here, in His mercy, in a very tender way. All that this requires is a phone call or an e-mail and a calendar.
Let us truly be in communion of prayer while we are on this journey, lifting one another up to the One who draws us and speaks to our hearts.