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Ash Wednesday

In Canada, Ash Wednesday arrives in the midst of winter’s deep freeze. However, little by little the days grow longer and the softer colors in the evening sky speak to us of future spring days so long anticipated. This is the day when Christians throughout the world flock to the Ash Wednesday service where ashes are placed on foreheads as we hear the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel”.
Thus begins the sacred forty days of Lent where we concentrate on Jesus’ forgiveness, love and compassion as he lived among the people prior to the events that led to his passion, death and resurrection. We strive to imitate Jesus in his mercy and compassion as we, forgetful of self, perform our own acts of love for our neighbours. At the same time, we look forward to the joy of celebrating the resurrection feast of Easter in April’s springtime.
May we grow deeper into God as we walk in reflective joy and peace throughout these forty Lenten days.
Jean Moylan, CSJ



Forward march into MARCH

March Hare, Ides of March, March Winds, Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick’s Day, St Joseph’s Day, School Winter break, no wonder March needs 31 days.

I have always found March to be “Hope Month.” It seems like a slide between winter and spring. With the winter we have experienced, HOPE is a must.

In March we have glimpses of spring and then BANG, winter again blows out her windy breath. Mother Nature has a wonderful sense of humor and the laugh is always on us. Isn’t it great to be Canadian?

March suggests forward moving, not backward steps. The Lenten Season also invites us to move forward spiritually, maybe with the wind at our back. Ash Wednesday, March 5th, is the jumping off point. Remember keeping your candy in a jar for forty days, not really giving up but hoarding – we didn’t grasp the true meaning of the Lenten journey or Lenten “March.”

We are called to change not endure. To help us along the “March” we get two stopovers to recharge our batteries – St. Patrick’s Day and St Joseph’s Day – certainly two saints who knew how to march.

There are many types of Marches just as there are many types of “us.” Sometimes we may feel that we are out of step but what is really important is moving forward in our call to conversion.

We say “March comes in as a lion and goes out like a lamb.” We should be right on target this year! We have had enough “lion” – on with the lamb. “Jesus the Lamb of God.” Join this March, beginning March 5th. He marched into Jerusalem and on the third day He rose from the dead.

As the story goes “Onward Christian Soldiers”

March – March- March

Barbara Vaughan, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

Cosmologists Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry have suggested that we are a culture that is presently in between stories (1992), between world views. Both science and spirituality have a stake in the story that is being created. Each alone has only partial answers to the questions of who we are and what we are capable of becoming. Indeed, as twenty-first century life unfolds, it is becoming increasingly clear that each of us has a voice in the answers to these questions. Through transformations in consciousness, each of us is empowered to help craft a new story–one that is more just, compassionate, and sustainable, now and for future generations.
Living Deeply: the Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life
by Marilyn Mandala Schlitz, Ph.D., Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., and Tina Amorok, Psy.D., pp.210-211.



Re-Lent Repeat

Mark your calendars! Wednesday March 5th will be Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent. This is not an event but a journey. Really it could be called Re-lent! Forty Days to step back and take an honest account of ourselves with the aid of prayer, fasting, and abstinence.

We are invited not to endurance but to conversion. “I have called you by name.” We can do almost anything for six weeks but for a lifetime? Yes, that is what conversion is all about. 40 days or 40 daze? Your choice: prayer, fasting/abstinence or almsgiving.

  • Prayer you may say prayers, pray, or both. Some quiet time each day with the Lord. A blessed “time-out.”
  • Fasting, which is not meant to be a crash diet – “right thing for the wrong season.” There is always fasting from gossip, T.V., computers, iPod, etc. Here is a novel idea—the time could be used for some spiritual reading.
  • Almsgiving – not just financial but a giving of the person.

Many cannot be out and about but we know how to use a phone or send a card (yes it costs for postage but worth every penny) – check out clothes and donate good outfits to places that assist women who are applying for jobs (this too can be an ongoing event).

Lent should not be a routine. Here is a fun suggestion for oneself or a family–make a stack of cards with a suggestion for the day (this can be made ready before Ash Wednesday). Each night before the supper, draw from the stack and put the suggestion into practice the following day. This can be a family event and helps to keep us re-Lenting in heart and mind. Don’t let Lent sneak up on you because just around the corner from re-Lenting is Easter.

Halleluia Bless the Lord!

Barbara Vaughan, CSJ


Beautiful to behold but so unreal!

Mary had a little lamb. Mary, Mary, quite contrary. Mary Jane shoes. Mary Brown’s chicken. So many Mary’s!! Most important Mary?? Mary of Nazareth!

So let us pray . . .

  • Mary, mother of the first Christmas gift—JESUS.
  • Mary, model of home-makers no matter where—stable, hovel, townhouse, or mansion.
  • Mary, model for third-class travellers (she walked or rode a donkey).
  • Mary, example for new mothers (not even a rocking chair, no disposable diapers, and no formula).
  • Mary, unassuming.
  • Mary, who knew what it meant to be a refugee.
  • Mary, who with Joseph, guided Jesus through his childhood and teen years.
  • Mary, who supported her son’s career and choice of friends. (Motley crew that they were.)
  • Mary, who empathizes with other widows and widowers.

So much artwork depicts Mary in an idealistic fashion (beautiful to behold but so unreal). Where is the sweat on her brow or spots on her clothes? There were hangnails, cuts, and bruises, many a bad hair day, I’m sure.

We are forever grateful to this young girl who gifted us with her son, Jesus—the son of God. Let’s see her as she really lived, a truly human person with gifts and flaws. This makes her a practical, ideal model for all of God’s children.

Mary, be with us as we journey, especially be a presence to the parents of teenage children. Last week I heard two mothers talking: “My 14 year old daughter received a message from another 14 year old ‘Lets party and get smashed.’” Fourteen years old!

Remember when Jesus was lost in the temple at twelve?

Yes Mary, we are in great need of your prayerful support and guidance. Mary surely understands the anguish of parents trying to guide their teenage children. They can share the word “panic.”

Hail Mary! Holy Mary! Human Mary! Prayer for us!

Barbara Vaughan, CSJ


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.