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Living Lent at the Monastery

Read these reflections from some of our Sisters. This Lent, we are sharing about our personal Lenten practices, spiritual reading or favorite Lent Scripture passage.

These reflections will be posted periodically throughout Lent.

Repent and Believe in the Gospel


Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.

Rend your hearts, not your garments.

God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness.

Proclaim a fast; gather the assembly.


Rend your hearts, not your garments.

Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

Proclaim a fast; gather the people.

I acknowledge my offense; my sin is ever before me.


Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.

A clean heart create for me, O God.

I acknowledge my offense; my sin is ever before me.

Pray, fast, give alms. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.


A clean heart create for me, O God.

God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness.

Pray, fast, give alms. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.


Repent and Believe in the Gospel



This is a poem containing verses from Ash Wednesday’s Lectionary readings (Joel 2:12-18; Psalm 51; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) that teach me about our Lenten journey, one that is both individual and communal. Let us pray for God’s grace to live Lent in these ways. God is beckoning us with a love and longing deeper than we can understand, but it is real. Let us answer God’s call because “Now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation
(2 Corinthians 6:2).”

Ash Wednesday
February 22, 2023

Sr. Marie Therese Racine
February 24, 2023

Sr. Antoinette Purcell

I cherish what Benedict writes about Lent in Chapter 49 of his Rule.  “All should work together at effacing during this holy season the negligence's of other times.”*  What strikes me is the phrase, “all should work together”.  I enter into Lent with enthusiasm aware that I am not on the journey alone.  I sense the companionship of my sisters in community that ties me to the larger Christian community and to Christ who is head of this body of believers.  There is an air in the monastery during Lent that I can only describe as sacred.  I sense the closeness of Christ who is present in a special way during Lent as we work together in silent ways to grow deeper in relationship with Christ, with one another, and with our sisters and brothers in faith.  You, dear reader, are part of this body of Christ.  May you feel our spiritual support on your Lenten journey!


[*Kardong, Terrence G.  Benedict’s Rule: A Translation and Commentary.  Liturgical Press, 1996, p. 402]

February 26, 2023

Sr. Susan  Nicole  Reuber

Before entering the monastery, I had a different view of almsgiving.  My understanding of almsgiving was very narrow and was strictly about donating money.  I would think about how much I wanted to donate and who I wanted to donate to.  I am not saying this is wrong or a horrible thing, but entering the monastery broadened my view of what almsgiving can be.  Almsgiving has become, for me, doing something for people here at the monastery.


This year as I prayed about what to put on my Bona Opera for almsgiving, I thought about what I could do that would give of myself for others.  This Lent I will be writing thank you letters to our co-workers at the monastery and the Benedict Inn.  I want to let them know how important they are to the sisters, hoping the note will brighten their day.  Along with the thank you note, I will be praying for them for the week they receive the note.  This practice helps me remember we could not live monastic life to its fullest without the service of our co-workers.  This is something that I don’t want to take for granted, and this practice brings it to the forefront.  As I pray for each one, I give thanks for all that they bring to our community in service and their presence with us. 

March 1, 2023

Sr. Mary  Margaret Funk

Each lent we take a book from the library and it is blessed by the Prioress along with our Bona Opera.

We are to read it cover to cover.  Books have come a long way from scrolls used in Jesus’ time to a codex, made up of folded pages between two covers that St. Patrick would have known,

To hand copied manuscripts, such as Book of Revelations of Julian of Norwich, to bound books printed by machines that had movable type.  Now, in our time we have hardback, paperbacks, eBooks and books Audio with documentaries about the whole process and content.  We are saturated with words, images and sounds. How do we discern our 2023 Lent Book?

After some prayer, reflection and conversation with Sister Bernardine in the lecio library “Harlots of the Desert” trans. by Benedicta Ward, slg. came my way.  I’ve read it before.  This time it will read me along with Lent Blessings.  It’s 113 pages with six chapters:  1. The Theme of Repentance, 2. St. Mary Magdalene; the Biblical Model of Repentance; 3. St. Mary of Egypt; the Liturgical Icon of Repentance; 4. Pelagia; Beauty Riding By; 5. Thais; How to Received a Gift; 6. Marie the Niece of Abraham; an Image of Salvation; Conclusion.  Hope the nun I live with see a difference in Sister Meg by Easter!

March 4, 2023

Sr. Mary Luke Jones

In his Rule, St. Benedict suggests this for Lent: “During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure of our service something by way of private prayer and abstinence from food or drink, so that each of us will have something above the assigned measure to offer God of his/her own will with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:6).”


Fasting from food and drink has long been a discipline during the 40 days of Lent but there are other things to fast from.  One practice of mine is to fast from noise.  Typically, I tune in NPR as I turn off my alarm so I can hear what has gone on in the world while I slept.  And the first thing I have a habit of doing in the car is to turn the radio on to the same station.  I have found that preparing for the day and riding to an appointment in silence has encouraged me to think and to pray.  It clears my mind of clatter and relieves me of the cares of the world long enough to thank God for the beauty of nature, the goodness of people and the peace that comes with silence.


It's worked for me.  You might want to try it.

March 6, 2023

Sr. Sheila Marie Fitzpatrick

As Benedictines we are called to commit to bona operas (good works) during Lent: a practice each of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As Catholics we are called to abstain from meat on Fridays, and to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. In my early years as a monastic I found this quite overwhelming. I could not keep track of all the different practices, nor sustain them through Lent.

I learned eventually to identify a theme for my bona operas. For example, this year my theme is gratitude – to give thanks each day in prayer and in person, and to let go of thoughts that prevent me from being thankful. I also learned that I need a lot of prayer and discernment to choose a theme, because God knows me better than I know myself.

Lastly, experience had taught me that I cannot change my ways on my own. I need God’s help and pray to begin anew each day. As I reflect back on the many seasons of Lent that I have lived, I realize that it is not the practices themselves but the deepening awareness of my reliance on God that has changed me.

So as you live out this Lenten season, know that all that you do ultimately should bring you closer to God, and may we all support one another on our journey together to God.

March 8, 2023

Sr. Marie Therese Racine

While I was discerning my Bona Opera, I read an article in America Magazine written by Joe Laramie, S.J. He suggested that when discerning our Lenten practices, we should first ask ourselves: What grace am I seeking? What grace does God want to give me? After meditating on those questions, it will be clear ‘what I should do for Lent’.”*


So, I discerned that I desire greater inner freedom, and God seems to want to bless me with this grace, too. Then, “what should I do for Lent?” Well, we all know that harboring negative thoughts and allowing them to continuously play in our consciousness is not good. They prevent us from being free and open to receive and respond with our best self to God’s call in the present moment.


So, this Lent I am fasting from harboring negative thoughts. So, following St. Benedict’s teaching, I am trying to hand my negative thoughts over to Christ right away (with the help of God’s grace!) and share those that persist with a spiritual guide or friend (RB 4:50). This I hope will loosen their hold on me. Then I may be ready to receive the grace to be a little more free to love, to be grateful, to give praise to God, to be the person God is calling me to be in that moment.



*Joe Laramie, S.J, “What should I give up for Lent?’ is the wrong question to start with,” America Magazine, February 16, 2023,

February 10, 2023

Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom

One of my favorite Lenten monastic practices is statio. A simple definition of statio is “pausing to be prayerful.” On the Saturday and Sunday evenings of Lent, our community gathers in silence in the hall outside of chapel. As the prayer bells end, we process into the chapel, led by our Prioress, who carries a large crucifix. For me, it is reminiscent of the crowd who gathered as Jesus made his journey to Calvary. We enter the darkened chapel in pairs, approaching the crucifix that is now held in front of us at the altar. We bow to both altar and our partner, acknowledging the presence of Christ in our midst and in each other. We then take our places and join in the opening hymn for prayer.


In Benedict’s Rule, he states, “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ and may he bring us all together to everlasting life” (72:11-12). In Tales From a Magic Monastery, Theophane the monk speaks about “going into the heart of God.” Lenten statio embodies these two realities for me. With my sisters, I walk into the heart of God, into the mystery of Christ’s passion and death, to the glory of the Resurrection. During Lent, the cross/crucifix is the only decoration in our chapel, the focus of our attention. I approach the cross with my sisters, with the women who daily teach me and call me to live the reality of the Pascal Mystery. The statio journey reflects the journey of every Christian.


May YOUR Lenten journey lead you to embrace the cross and trust in the promise of the Resurrection.

March 12, 2023

Sr. Kathleen Yeadon

On this 3rd Sunday of Lent, the preface for the Eucharistic Prayer goes along with today’s Gospel about the woman at the well (John 4:5-42). In the Eucharistic Prayer we read:

For when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink, he had already created the gift of faith within her and so ardently did he thirst for her faith,

that he kindled in her the fire of divine love.

How often do we believe that God goes ahead of us in our needs and desire? 

So often we think we need to do something – more prayer, a sacrifice or penance to get God’s attention. God goes before us. God plants in us the beautiful desires God already wants to give us. Kind of incredible. 

Fr. Mike Schmitz in Catechism for the Year stressed that original sin was not trusting in God’s goodness. Wow, that blew my mind.

So here is the Samaritan woman struggling to get to the well in the hottest part of the day to be invited to quench a stranger’s thirst. I think she makes a fine theologian knowing all she knows and her questions. But she makes an even better evangelizer after she experiences God quenching her thirst! Life experiences give us so much to be grateful for – in the middle of a struggle, God shows up. In the midst of confusion, clarity comes. Perspective is crucial – she was willing to face and engage the stranger at the well. Then she was ready to let her vulnerability be present and receive the living water. 

Where in this Lent are we letting our vulnerability be an entryway to God’s Grace? 

Are the Bono Opera we embarked on something to accomplish or thresholds to receiving the living water? Can we trust God’s goodness to fill our bucket? Can that joy of God’s goodness overflow for the people with whom we live and work? 

Let’s trust that God has kindled in each one of us the fire of divine love.

March 15, 2023

Sr. Marie Therese Racine

“When we reach out to another with love, we participate in the very character of God, in our limited and imperfect way. If it is true that we are made in the image and likeness of God, then love is like a default setting for our hearts.”*


This is a quote from the book I am reading this Lent: Life Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux. It is an awesome statement and responsibility – the way in which St. Thérèse teaches us to live. It reminds me that we are each created by Love for love. I remember saying to someone many years ago that “my heart was made for love.” At that time, I was hoping for married love. But God had other plans. Now as a sister, I know my heart still really is made for love – to love as God loves, with God’s love, and with the help of God’s grace. We try to practice this in the monastery, guided by St. Benedict who calls us to safeguard love in the community in all the many ways we relate to one another.


I know that my “default setting” of love can get overridden at times because of my weaknesses and sinfulness, causing me to hold on to hurts and to relate to others in unloving ways. Lent is a time to ask God for the grace to reset my heart back to its default of the overflowing, generous and merciful love of God that Jesus revealed and showed us how to live. Prayer, participation in the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and intentionally reaching out again to others with love, mercy, and forgiveness from a heart reset with the help of God’s grace, will help me continue to become who I was created to be.


Your heart was made for love, too. Does it need a reset this Lent? Let’s pray for each other and ask St. Thérèse to help us.


*Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC and Marisa Guerin, PhD, Life Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux (Frederick, MD: The Word Among Us Press, 2022), 70.

March 17, 2023

Sr. Susan Nicole Reuber

Today’s Gospel gives the two greatest commandments.  “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12).


Our Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving should bring us closer to living out these two great commandments.  Each practice gives us the opportunity to grow closer to God and our neighbor.  Growing closer to God and neighbor give us the opportunity for conversion.  As we are about to enter the fourth and final week, ask yourself these questions:  Have my practices led me to conversion?  Have they led me closer to loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?  Have they led me to helping and loving my neighbor?

March 19, 2023

Sr. Anna Marie Megel

 In today's second reading St. Paul. reminds us in Ephesians 5:8-9, that "You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as Children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth."  I so well remember when I taught 1st grade years ago how much the first graders loved singing the song, "This little light of mine, I am going to let it shine."  Can you imagine what our country, our world would be like if we all would let our light of Christ shine?

      Holy Saturday night is one of my favorite times of the year, when we all gather outside around the fire and blessing of the Easter candle.  Then, how,  each of us receive a lighted candle as we enter the darken church.  My prayer, my hope is that each person present would then take their "lighted candle" - "light of Christ" to one other person and that person in turn share their light, reaching out into the whole world.  We could then join the 1st graders singing, "This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."

March 22, 2023

Sr. Carol Falkner

Benedict summed up Chapter 48, “On the Observance of Lent,” as follows, “In other words, let each one deny oneself some food, drink, sleep, needless talking and idle jesting, and look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.”  How many of us pay attention to our needless talking and idle jesting? Yet, such words can make the difference in the quality of our relationship with others.  Benedict knew it was important to think before we speak so our words would not hurt but heal.  If we examen out own lives, we know how we have been wounded by another’s thoughtless words, words that cannot be taken back.  So Lent is a time when we can commit to a new way of communication. The habit we need to develop and nurture is the habit of the “contemplative pause”.  Before we speak, stop, and ask yourself, “Will my words build up or tear down the other person’s dignity? Will my words spread a rumor that damages another’s reputation?  Will my words, which seem to be humorous, carry a sharp criticism at their core?”  This Lent, let us ask forgiveness for our “needless talking and idle jesting” that hurt others and let ask for the grace to take the contemplative pause that results in loving words or peaceful silence.

March 24, 2023

Sr. Antoinette Purcell



Mary and holy women at the cross

with hearts overcome by tears and grief.  

Racked with shock, shaken by the inhumanity that

seeps up from fear and hatred like a swollen river that

turns fields of green into swamps of mud and mire.


What kind of human could participate so willingly in

such torture and abuse were it not spilling over from

the depths of darkness within?


Mercy for those whose eyes have been blinded

by the scales of fear, hatred, and jealousy.

Mercy for those whose hearts have been hardened

by the stones of pride, greed, and self-righteousness.


Consolation comes to those in grief and sorrow,

who know the Source of consolation.

They find strength to trust, to endure and to wait.


Blessed is she who believes that

the lord's word will be fulfilled.


What words of consolation while fulfillment comes.

Hearts are consoled by shared love and faith,

remembering together the promise, the stories

of mended hearts and bodies and spirits,

            of wine and bread more than enough for all,

            of seeds and yeast and lost coins,

            of love and mercy and compassion,

            of a kingdom not of this world,

            of death that leads to life.

March 26, 2023

Sr. Kathleen Yeadon

5th Sunday of Lent. John 11:1-45


On this beautiful story of the raising of Lazarus, there are many emotions. 30 years ago on this date, my Dad died of prostrate cancer. It was a Friday morning. That Sunday was this Gospel. One can imagine what I was feeling and thinking as the priest read the Gospel. Who doesn’t want Jesus to heal their loved one?! How can our loved one come back to us instead of the huge loss facing me that day with the wake/visitation.


Years later, I was on a retreat preparing for final vows. This Gospel was one I was reflecting on and now I could hear God calling me out of the tomb, wrapped up in past hurts, to begin again a life following Jesus.


Do I have answers for the grief we go through when we suffer a death? No. I only can trust that the God who chose to walk the journey to his own death in Jerusalem, knows what is in my heart. I can try to hear the words, I am the Resurrection and the life. . . This Gospel gives me courage to pick up my own cross and follow Jesus. No Lenten sacrifice will ever match up to offering the grief and many losses we have to the God who waits for us and walks with us.


Sometimes we are Martha who runs out to meet Jesus. Sometimes we are Mary who holds back. Sometimes, we are trapped in the tomb. No matter which one we are, Jesus comes to receive us as we are and walks with us to the tomb. God will give us grace to carry on. Untie the loss and let it go.

March 30, 2023

Sr. Anne Louise Frederick

I trust the Spirit to guide my choice as I choose a Lenten book and I was guided to Be Healed by Bob Schuchts. The author describes healing as a process of being made whole; a restoration of our communion with God. It is the fundamental mission of Jesus and a process that is never ending and ever deepening as we are open to the Spirit. When our wounds and brokenness are not tended to, we can inflict pain on others and bring division where Jesus desires unity.

Lent is a time for me to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the root of any barriers to my communion with God and to others. As I look at my own weaknesses and sinfulness, I am reminded that God’s way with us is one of restorative justice and not retribution. It starts with an encounter with the One who loves us intimately and leads to truth and then to grace; the unmerited gift of divine mercy. It is in humbly receiving this gift that I then extend this gift to others. Jesus invites all of us to be his ambassadors in his great desire to heal our world.

March 31, 2023

Sr. Sheila Marie Fitzpatrick

Sunday begins the most holy week of the year for Christians, and also marks the final days of Lent.  We are near the end.  If you have undertaken a practice of fasting and/or almsgiving, it is a good time to reflect on the blessings of this practice.

It may be during this reflection that the feelings of guilt or failure arise.  This is normal.  There is not one human in this world that can resist temptations 100% of the time.  This is an illusion, one that sets us up for failure if we attempt to “achieve” this rate of success.

We are limited human beings, striving to become who God want us to become.  Temptations are inevitable.  St. Augustine wrote, “ Our life here in this time of journeying cannot be without temptation, for it is through temptation that we make progress, and it is only by being tempted that we come to know ourselves.” 

My Lenten book, Grace, On the Journey to God, by Trappist monk Michael Casey, includes a chapter on the grace of temptation, stating that “temptation may well be a mean of making progress in self-knowledge and truth, but it wears us down.”  This is exactly what the devil desires, for us to become discouraged and even give up the struggle.

This is inevitable if we rely only on our will.  We need the grace of God to catch us when we fall into temptation and fall we most certainly will.  But if we can trust in God’s grace, then the more we stumble from temptation, the more we learn about ourselves and the more we come to know that we are utterly dependent on God.

This is the heart of the spiritual journey – to come to know authentically who we are and to learn to trust in the goodness and merciful love of God.

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