My dear friends,
It was an uncanny co-incidence that the day after Ange asked for this month’s copy the Gospel of the day was about Fasting and the next day about legalism in spirituality. On the subject of the former my daily bible reading notes quoted S. Jerome ‘s words, ‘Let your fasts be moderate , since if they are carried to excess they weaken the stomach, and by making food necessary to make up for it lead to indigestion......A temperate diet is good for both body and soul.’ On the subject of legalism that ensued from the Pharisees picking fault on the disciple picking of the ears of corn it said, ‘the problem of legalism.....is that it reduces following God to a set of rules—a case of the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the laws.’
It struck me that each of these deep comments have much to say to us as we prepare for Lent. That is perhaps we should start making prayerful preparation not doing the same old thing. We should probably ask ourselves what is the Spirit of Lent? It is surely to grow closer to God as the notion of fasting originated—to grow in a deeper understanding of God’s blessings to us and thereby become more generous to others and to coin a modern term, more respectful of the environment.
It is of course between an individual and their Spiritual Director to decide upon the most appropriate keeping of Lent: but, as a community I would urge us all to look again at the periods of silent prayer available before the Sung Masses. By that I do not mean, to look at the dates and times in order to arrive later to avoid them, or, to practice gathering for a “quieter chat” at the back of church: on the contrary to arrive in time for the beginning of this special time with the Lord and if that is not possible, on arrival, to go straight to our places and join in the wave of prayer that has begun.
With my love and prayers,