Ash Wednesday – “Desert Day”

On Ash Wednesday we observed our first “desert day” which consists of observing quiet throughout the day for private prayer, refection, spiritual reading and rest. We were free to sleep in later if we wished with no community responsibilities until the evening Mass at 5:10 PM.

I took advantage of this by waking up two hours later then I usually wake up. It was a good day for spiritual reading, spending several periods in private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, “journaling,” and beginning preparation for this Sunday’s Mass when I will preside at the community’s liturgy.

Lunch was taken in silence as we tried to maintain a spirit of solitude throughout the day.

At 5:10 PM we gathered in the chapel for mass which included the blessing and distribution of ashes. Fr. Jack McAtee was the celebrant of the Eucharist with Br. Kevin Dargan preaching. I first met Br. Kevin, a Maryknoll brother, 30 years ago while I was studying for the priesthood at Maryknoll School of Theology in Ossining, New York.

Fr. Jack McAtee, a former missionary in Japan, shared with us several “Chinese” characters which were poignant for us to reflect on as we were beginning our Lenten journey. These characters were: “mi” – be lost, “meng” – darkness or confusion, “jian” – gradually,” and “ming” – light. In other words they meant: To be lost in darkness or confusion and gradually being brought into the light.” This is a summary of our Lenten journey of faith from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday when we will celebrate the “new life” of Resurrection through the renewal of our baptismal promises.

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Another set of “Chinese” characters were: “zi” – self, “xin” – new, “ming” – of, “zing” – character, “li” – is, and “ji” – the basis. He translated these characters to mean, “Self-renewal is the basis of character.”

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Br. Kevin Dargan preached a wonderful homily telling us a true story of the conversion of a woman preparing for baptism in Tanzania, Africa where he lived and served as a missionary for 25 years.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy:

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Br. Kevin Dargan reading the Gospel and preaching at our Ash Wednesday Eucharist

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Fr. Jack McAtee blesses the ashes to be distributed at Mass

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Br. Joseph Schmidt receives blessed ashes from Maribel Carceller

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Br. Dennis signs Fr. Peter Callery with blessed ashes

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Br. James Needham signs S. Marci Krause with blessed ashes

May we all have a most Blessed Lent!

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