Mass with the blessing and distribution of ashes will be celebrated at 7:00 AM, Wednesday, 22 February, 2012. Abbot Robert Barnes will preside.
On Ash Wednesday, following the Constitutions of the Order, the monastic community fasts on bread and water (in the houses of our Order in Asia or Africa, the local equivalent of bread and water–the food of poor people–is eaten at the noon day meal). A cooked portion is provided for the aged and infirm.
The word “joy” only appears in St. Benedict’s Rule for monasteries in the Chapter on Lent. There joy refers to the anticipation of Holy Easter. And that’s a good reminder that Lent is exactly that, an anticipation of the Paschal Mystery, the joy of resurrection. The austerities of Lent need not be laden with guilt and gloominess: they are like house cleaning and purification. They are like tilling the soil and digging out rocks and roots to prepare for planting. Today people diet to feel better or look better or be healthier. Lenten observances, like dieting, are part of the cleansing of our spiritual system, recognizing that we are embodied–not diembodied–spirits seeking an outward expression of inner work.