Saturdays in Lent have a quality all their own: slightly bleak, especially if the weather is bad, and somehow not particularly memorable. A lot of life is like that, if we’re honest, but I find St Benedict’s call to live lives of ‘surpassing purity during this holy season’ and his emphasis on joy quite striking (RB 49). Like most nuns, I love the stripping away to essentials of both liturgy and daily life at this time. The chant is unaccompanied, the food very plain (we fast every day except Sunday), and we try, within the limits of our budget and personal talents, to give more to others than we are able to do at other times of year. It reminds me that most of our monastic life is hidden and both much more ordinary than many people assume and perhaps a little more extraordinary at the same time. It has something of the transforming quality of Holy Saturday/Easter Night about it. My favourite quotation from the Desert Fathers captures the essence of this transformation: ‘the monastic cell is like Easter Night, it sees Christ rising.’
That is our prayer for ourselves and for all who read this blog at any time of year.