Ash Wednesday at Mississippi Abbey

As we begin Lent, we renew the conversion of our sense of importance. That sense is in the heart. Our interior life regulates our exterior actions. This is because for all the beliefs we might hold, what we care about is usually the determining factor in our choice of actions.  We care about things that make a difference and the difference makes it important. Our actions are for the sake of what we care about. That is why, as we shall shortly pray, God is moved by acts of humility, by acts that show that He matters most.

So, each should ask herself, “What difference has my monastic (or faith) life made to me? What difference does setting my heart on God make?”

When a person takes on the vowed life (marital or monastic) she renounces things she previously enjoyed (like going out for an evening) and things she may not have enjoyed (like paying bills). Neither Lent nor the vowed life is about giving up the enjoyable. They are about creating an empty, open space; They are about preferring the greatest good. That gives God a place to sit, stretch out, and make Himself at home!

We take actions that clear that space such as self-denial or extra effort to be helpful. They free us of self. In doing these we make a major decision about what is most important. We know our decision is effective because it makes a difference. These actions benefit us because He is already living in us…and it has made a difference!