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1st March - Ash Wednesday

Posted on 1st March, 2017

The Sisters receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday





The Carmelites enter deeply into all the seasons of the Church's liturgy.To receive ashes at the beginning of Lent is a reminder that we will one day return to dust and therefore life is precious and we want to live it in the best way possible. Lent is a time when we remind ourselves of our beliefs and ideals and, being only too aware of how we have failed, we resolve to press forward again with stronger determination. It is a time of optimism and joy.


We have three aims in Lent. They are the traditional ones of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Prayer is the first duty of a Carmelite and, during Lent, we renew our commitment to living in God's presence in praise and intercession for today's world. Fasting means being content with simple fare, knowing that many poor people suffer hunger and want. Almsgiving can take many forms, loving and helping others in any way we can. A friendly smile, spending time with someone in need or sacrificing something which we enjoy for someone else are all ways of loving our neighbour.


Pope Benedict left us some reflections on Lent in one of his last talks before he retired. He said, 'Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry and where he was tempted by the devil. The wilderness to which Jesus withdrew is the place of silence and poverty, where man is deprived of material support and faces fundamental questions. He is driven to the essential and for this very reason can more easily encounter God.'  This is also true of the Carmelite who, in her place of withdrawal, is free from many of the distractions of daily life and, if she is faithful, can become more deeply aware of life's essential meaning.


'Repent is an invitation that we often hear in Lent', says Pope Benedict. 'It means following Jesus in such a way that his Gospel is a practical guide for life; it means letting God transform us, in order to stop thinking that we are the only ones to build our existence; it means recognising that we are creatures, that we depend on God, on his love, and that only by "losing" our life in him can we gain it.'

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