Readings of the day: RB 12 The Celebration of Solemn LaudsMass: Joel 2:12-18; Resp. Ps 51; 1 Co 5:20-6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18 If the soul is always joyful, it is a good day.(Pope Francis, General Audience, Feb. 14, 2018)
St Benedict outlines ‘The Observance of Lent’ in Ch. 49 of the Holy Rule. One of my favorite lines, somewhat a summary of the chapter and related to Pope Francis’s words delivered today in the ‘wind and rain….to a small crowd of pilgrims who braved the inclement Roman winter weather’ (Vatican Radio), reads: ‘In other words, let each one deny herself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing’ (RB 49:7). Lent is not a time for gloom and doom and dour demeanor. As St Matthew tells us: ‘Whenever you fast, do not look dismal like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting.’ Instead, ‘put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.’ These questions come to mind: Will my Lenten practices be cause for joy? Will my Lenten practices be means that lead to greater intimacy with Jesus and deepen my love for my sisters and brothers with whom I live, work, and encounter on a daily basis? Let the people say: ‘We know they are Christians by their joy!’Your father who sees in secret will reward you.