The courts of Rex and Comus have met. The Fathers’ Club has sold its last hot dog from the ASH trailer. The flags of royalty have been lowered. Yes, the cacophony of marching, music, and Mardi Gras mayhem has ended for another year. With its ending, many of us have segued into the season of Lent signed with ashes across our foreheads.
Beginning late this year, this solemn season coincided with the blossoming of beautiful pink azaleas stretching across the front of the Rosary Campus, a full block along St. Charles Avenue. The appearance of iconic azaleas for New Orleaneans signals the end of winters-that-never-were and the beginning of spring, a time for Easter beach breaks, but usually not Lent.
Not long ago, I discovered that these beautiful azalea plants were a gift to the Sacred Heart community from a Sacred Heart family, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boh. Still blooming after over 50 years, these amazing durable azalea plants remind me of the constant fidelity of God and of the true gift that each person is to our school community. Could they have possibly imagined that their gift would be so lasting? So productive? So bountiful?
In a letter this Lent, Pope Francis encourages us to regard each person as a precious gift from God and through this practice, to renew our encounter with Him. Reflecting on this teaching, I realize how many portals there are each day for drawing closer to the mystery of God’s immanent presence: the portal of “beauty and blossoms,” the portal of “silence and sitting,” the portal of emptying out “cups and closets,” the portal of “giving oneself in service,” and the portal of “listening and learning.” These are some of my portals for Lent – pathways into Jesus’ heart for conversion. How would you name your portals for encountering the Lord this Lent?
On Saturday, April 15th, the season of Lent will end. In our school community, we will welcome another break for Easter. Bracketed by a period of only six weeks, it is most important to welcome into our hearts the opportunity presented by this short time – regardless of our position and role in the school – for the deepening of our “…faith in God” (Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Goal 1) and for “the building of community as a Christian value.” (Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Goal 4). I hope that you can visit our ASH website for some resources on your Lenten journey.http://www.ashrosary.org/
On so many mornings while walking through the front gates of our school, I find a prayer of thanksgiving emerging within me – one that gives a silent “shout out” to God for this mission of education, for the students at Sacred Heart and their families, for the faculty and staff, and for the gift of being called to its continuation. Thinking of all of our Sacred Heart community, I easily stride forward in faith, grateful to each one for being part of this phenomenal mystery and for your personal gift to this community of the Sacred Heart.
With prayer, I hope that your Lent be truly blessed with gift and grace.
Note to the reader of this blog: This is a slightly edited version of a letter written to the ASH community at the beginning of Lent. Thank you for all of your kind words of support, readers!