For some reason it's always a relief when Ash Wednesday rolls around. There's something comforting about hearing the words 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...' It's a reminder that all those imagined burdens and the weight of the world are most definitely not on my shoulders. I can fast and pray and try to make peace in my life and community, and respond to the requests made to me, but in the cosmic picture I am an insignificant speck, a speck, however, that is beloved of God. And because of that love, our prayer matters, far more than we can ask or imagine. Let us all pray for peace in this time of crisis.
Recently Graham Edwards gave me a translation of a poem by De Guileville, a tribute to St Benedict and his sister, Scholastica. You may recall that Gregory the Great in Dialogues 2.33 recounts the story of their meeting. She desires him to stay longer so that they can talk 'of the joys of heavenly life [de caelestis vitae gaudiis].' When he shows reluctance to remain, she prays with tears that miraculously set off a thunderstorm, thereby preventing his departure. [Apologies for the formatting problems]
Inundacio pluvie I ask that the downpouring rain
Dei misericordie Of the mercy of God may now
Adsit michi per sororem; Assist me by thy sister's act.
Per vos ambos fons gracie By both of you may grace's fount
Stillaque dulcis venie And the drip of gentle pardon
Recreet me peccatorum; Revive me, sinner as I am;
Per vos spernam mundi florem, By you I shall spurn the world's bloom,
Eius vana et honorem Its vanities and its honour,
Erecta mentis facie Having raised the face of the mind
Ad bonorum largitorum To the bestower of good things
Et pium distributorem And the pious distributor
Donorum regnil glorie. Of the gifts of glory's kingdom.