As a Mercy community, we began the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday liturgies. Staff and students received the ashes as a public expression of our faith and reconciliation, in preparation for the resurrection of Jesus.
As a young girl, I recall having to ‘give up something’ for Lent. Friday abstinence from eating meat was strictly adhered to in my family and there was no television allowed on Good Friday. The ‘Easter Show’ was not open on Good Friday or Easter Sunday and the Saturday Night Vigil was a yearly commitment we made and an important tradition to our understanding of waiting for the resurrection of Christ.
As important as it is to sacrifice something during Lent, the lead-up to Easter for me, as an adult, is centred around being a time of stillness and preparedness for the resurrection; a time for remembering how privileged we are to live in a country which is peaceful and largely environmentally stable (In writing this, what comes to mind is the war in Ukraine and the devastation of lives in Turkey and Syria in recent earthquakes). Lent is also a time of reconciling ourselves to one another and asking those we may have hurt, for mercy for the mistakes we make as human beings. Living Lent is being attentive to the needs of others and responding with mercy and with practical compassion.
As a Mercy community, almsgiving gives a great sense of meaning to ‘giving up something’. It provides the opportunity to see the impact that our generosity can have on others. Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion which is the only campaign we at OLMC support at this time, and I encourage our Mercy community to donate generously so others, much less privileged than we, may live better and know they are cared for.