Ash Wednesday




Dear Friends of St. Joseph Retreat Center,

Loving greetings to each of you.

Join us in thanking Anne Louise for putting together another Lenten Series for us to reflect during this special time of year.

Our prayers are with you as we prepare for the Blessings of Easter.


Sisters and Staff of the St. Joseph Retreat Center


"A clean heart create for me, oh God and a steadfast spirit renew within me;
cast me not out of Your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me." Psalm 51:12 13.

Here we go again! It's that time of year when Holy Mother Church calls us to take a step back and renew our relationship with God and grow in holiness. The Latin root of the meaning of the word Lent is springtime and lengthening of days. After the dead of winter, we look for signs of life in the world around us. A bird building a nest, crocus or daffodils coming to the surface pushing their way above the soil; and we notice the sun rise earlier and the sun set later. It is a time for us to come out of the darkness.

On Ash Wednesday we receive ashes to remind us that, "We were dust and to dust we shall return." By receiving the ashes in the form of a cross on our foreheads, we are brought face to face with our own death and suffering in the form of the Cross during this life; but we are an Easter people. We prepare for the next 40 days for the Resurrection knowing we will have eternal life if we follow our Lord. I am grateful for this reminder each year because it is easy for me to fall into complacency and in the spiritual life if you are not moving forward you are falling back.

In the next 40 days we are called to examine our lives, ask where is there darkness, and death? Then repent of those sins and attachments and grow closer to Christ; which is to grow in holiness. Holiness is being set apart by and through love.

I like to think of my experience of Lent as if I were a seed firmly planted in the ground. In order to grow and bear fruit I must be nourished. This can be accomplished through prayer and time with Christ who is the light, as well as receiving the Eucharist which is the spiritual food I need to flourish. I must also be pruned. The weeds must be removed and what is old and dying must be cut away. Whatever is toxic or draining me in my life must be eradicated. How I do this is through penance, sacrifice, and giving away my time and money to others (almsgiving). I receive the water I need through the sacraments especially the sacrament of Reconciliation and the Mass.

Throughout the next 40 days I welcome the opportunity to grow, bloom, and become truly live. At the end of Lent I pray to be in God's presence, be refreshed and renewed, and to be a source of light for the world ready for the Resurection.