Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Now Is the Acceptable Time

Upon my return last night from Australia to my St. Paul home, I discovered quite a large pile of mail. Not surprising, really, as I had been away for two months. And so earlier this afternoon the sorting began!

Most of this accumulated mail can be recycled, but there are a few items that I’ll be holding on to. There’s the latest issue of the
Gay and Lesbian Review, for instance; and several issues of the National Catholic Reporter (always good reading material for city bus rides). There’s also a lovely letter from Mahmoud, the little boy I sponsor in Egypt through Save the Children.

And there’s Springtime of the Soul, the annual Lenten guide published by the Congregation of St. Joseph. As a
consociate member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province, I’m gifted each year with this wonderful booklet of scripture readings, prayers, and reflections.

Today being Ash Wednesday, I thought I’d share what Rosanne Belpedio, CSJ has to say in Springtime of the Soul about this special day that marks the beginning of the Lenten season.*


“Be reconciled to God. . . now is a very acceptable time
. . . now is the day of salvation.”

– 2 Cor 5:20 – 6:2

Now is the acceptable time. How ready am I to engage in Paschal Mystery this Lenten season? The traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and giving of alms invite us to examine our relationships.

What do I need to do to be in “right relationship” with myself and my neighbor? How can I make my interpersonal relationships more just and life-giving for others as well as for myself?

What do I need to do to be more honest and purposeful about my relationship with God? How can I become more aware of the challenges to our troubled planet? What lifestyle changes do I need to make to live in a more respectful relationship with the earth?

Now is a very acceptable time to be reconciled to myself, to my neighbor, and to my God in all of creation.

God of all creation, be my companion
On this Lenten journey. Help me to strengthen
My relationships and deepen my awareness of all of creation.
Guide me to put my talents at the service
Of those most in need of my gifts.

– Rosanne Belpedio, CSJ
Sherman Oaks, CA


In the introduction to Springtime of the Soul, Mary Southard, CSJ notes that Lent is “40 focused days of reflection, joy, hope, freshness, Springtime!” She then poses a series of helpful questions that I aim to focus upon this Lent. Perhaps you’ll find them meaningful and helpful too.

How do we come to the new stories, the truth, our truth, which are longing to be told in our lives? How can we enter our lives anew during this holy time, shedding old labels and discomforts which keep us in prison? How can we touch that sacred place within us so full of love and possibility? How can we become more attentive to God, Great Mystery, the One in whom we live and move and have our being?

. . . May this Lent bring us all to a deeper attention to the Sacred WITHIN of things, God’s within, your own “within,” and the ever-widening circle of our Love and Compassion.

* The traditions of Lent come from the season’s origins as a time when the church prepared candidates, or “catechumens,” for their baptism into the Body of Christ. It eventually became a season of preparation not only for catechumens but also for the whole congregation. Examination of conscience, study, prayer, and works of love are disciplines historically associated with Lent. Conversion - literally the “turning around” or reorientation of our lives towards God - is the theme of Lent. Both as individuals and as a community, we look inward and reflect on our readiness to follow Jesus in his journey towards the cross. The forty days of Lent correspond to the forty-day temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and the forty-year journey of Israel from slavery to a new community.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Ash Wednesday Reflections
“Here I Am!” – The Lenten Response
The Lenten Journey

Image: “Red Indian Paintbrush Flower in Springtime” by Mark Carlson.

1 comment:

Mareczku said...

Welcome back to the US, Michael. And thank you again for all the wonderful and beautiful pictures from Oz. Peace, love and blessings to you.