Lent: Making All Things New

A Reflection for Ash Wednesday

By Bernadette A. Sahm

 

“Ash Wednesday is full of joy … The source of all sorrow is the illusion that of ourselves we are anything but dust.”
-Father Thomas Merton

It is that time of year when we anticipate more sunshine and the beauty, color, and newness that the spring season affords us. As I walk through my garden, I notice things that are dormant after months of winter weather. My hydrangeas seem to be dead and brittle and without life. My faith knows better. Looking closely, I see the burrowed closed ends of what I believe will return as hot pink and baby blue flowering hydrangeas.

“Lent comes providentially to awaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” –Pope Francis

Lent and spring are synonymous for me as they both represent the opportunity to make all things new again. We know what a garden can be with proper nurturing. and what it will look like after it receives water, sunshine, and food to grow. Lent affords us the opportunity to reflect on all our relationships and to grow them with love and in faith. God wants us to see His face in all living things.

We begin again in Lent; we witness signs of new life, and we too can create that new life when our hearts open and are birthed again. Even a heart that has been dormant can spring back to life.

There is nothing like the beauty in a flowering rose, yet it shows us; “non c’e rosa senza le sue spine’” (translation – there is no rose without its thorns). Lent does not have to be solely about giving up our favorite foods and drink, but it can remind us to forego hatred and lack of forgiveness and instead, build a pure and clean heart.

May your Lenten season be filled with an abundance of love, kindness, forgiveness, grace and all things beautiful.

Bernadette Sahm is the Director of Mission Advancement for the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

“Create A Clean Heart in Me, O God” – A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 2-15; Jn 12:20-33

Last spring, during the Easter season, we enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of several hyacinth plants. After they had bloomed and then gradually wilted and dried, I continued to water them in the hope of a second bloom.  Nothing happened and after a while I gave up and put the pots aside. Almost a year has passed and the other day something in the neglected flower pots caught my eye.

What was that yellowish, white thing? Could it be? Yes, it was a tender shoot pushing through the earth saying, “I died and was buried, but now, here I am emerging from the earth alive and new.” It took time, but the transformation happened. Another and another bud pushed through and I was awed at the miracle and determination of life over death.

We hear about such surprise and transformation in the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.  Jesus tells us that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.  But if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Being the servant, the follower of Jesus means that we understand the story of the seed, the lesson of the plant. Those periods of death, darkness, loss, doubt and confusion that every one of us experiences in our lives, are the environment, the incubation period from which faith, enlightenment and rebirth emerge.

And where is the nurturing place for such a faith? In the first reading we hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

God has placed the seed of faith in our hearts. Our hearts are that place of incubation for renewal, discovery, transformation, birth. Our Lenten discipline enables us to clarify the direction of our lives, to face and deal with the dark places within and to accommodate the challenges of daily dying and rising.

May we nurture in our hearts during this “season of incubation” new stirrings of hope, possibilities and responsiveness to the call of the one who “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

We pray in the words of the responsorial psalm:

“Create a Clean Heart in Me, O God”