Sorry for the little delay in getting out this latest post. It’s been a pretty hectic week with a couple of papers due as well as a super big history of philosophy exam!!!
So many changes have happened over here at the abbey because this week marks the beginning of Lent!! I’m both pretty excited but also really nervous for my very first Lent up here. It was incredible when on Mardi Gras, we ended our final vespers with a beautiful Alleluia that you only really hear during the end of the Easter Vigil mass (in anticipation for it I’m guessing) to mark the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday. That was the last time we will be saying that A word, I think, for a little while. It kind of messed me and a few others up because right after saying the Glory be to the Father at the start of either vespers or midday prayer, we ALWAYS say it. I never really realized it but I was so accustomed to saying it out of habit. It cost me some problems… During midday prayer, as I was chanting with the monks, I just began saying it when I suddenly realized it and immediately put my hand over my mouth, a little bit shocked. It’s as if I said a bad word… It’s hilarious!!!
Lent for those of my readers who aren’t familiar with it is the time when Christians throughout the world for close to 2 months remember Christ’s passion, death and ultimately, resurrection. It’s a time of lots of self-denials, prayer, fasting (eating only one full meal a day), and abstinence (no meat). It’s both a very difficult time but very rewarding time too if you really make it a part of you. And in my opinion, there’s no better place to do that than here at the abbey where our lives revolve so much around the liturgy.
That’s also the first place where I noticed the most changes with regard to Lent. I did not realize how much more special our daily masses are compared to anywhere else. Everyday, during mass, we always have Fr. Basil playing on the organ and we always chant in Latin (Gregorian Chant) for the opening procession, offertory, and communion. All the mass parts are sung as well and sprinkled throughout the mass are the psalms that are so so important to the monks here who say it everyday. All of this is sung joyfully at 6:30 in the morning everyday!!! It adds soooooo much joy to the mass.
Well, during Lent, not that we stopped singing Gregorian Chant but rather Father Basil stopped playing the organ during the interludes both before and after the chant. The mass that used to be surrounded completely by music suddenly became a lot more eerily quiet. With significantly less music, the atmosphere has changed entirely from one of joy (though there still is a little of that) to one more of tranquility and silence. The silence is pretty deafening!!! It’s still something I’m trying to get used to.
The other thing so far, that I’ve noticed change is the food. We now get significantly less food in general quantitatively and less better food as well qualitatively. More liver, more cold cuts and less pizza or ribs (this one was my favorite food here). It doesn’t matter anyway because during a given meal, about a quarter of the guys are fasting, eating only bread.
There’s a lot more time dedicated to prayer too. It has gotten a lot more quiet in our residence. Even at our stairwell, which is usually somewhat busy has quieted down because some guys might be on it praying the Stations of the Cross. The Friday night adoration is jam packed with people now too as majority of the majors join the minors for their weekly holy hour. The atmosphere here has definitely changed!!
How is your lent coming along? What did you decide to give up? What did you decide to start doing? Post up some comments guys!!! Happy Sunday!!!
Featured Image by aronki