February here at the Beda College is marked by examination time and also a period of retreat for all the students. Having a retreat at this point of the year seems to work well as it is between the semesters and, therefore, a natural time of looking back to the period from October and looking forward to the months of spring and summer, to the end of the college year and the Ordination of priests and deacons which will take place in the summer. This year we will have eight students ordained as deacons and two leaving the college after their four years who will be ordained priest – one in the Diocese of Meath in Ireland, the other in the Diocese of Brentwood in England.
The end of February this year also heralds the season of Lent when we return to the purple vestments of expectation, but this time accompanied by an intensified sense of repentance – the ‘turning of the heart’ ever more towards God and The Kingdom. We are mindful also of the accompaniment which we give to those seeking to enter the Church through Baptism at Easter; we walk with them in these 40 days and we seek, as they do, a purification and a repentance which will enable us all the better to renew our dedication during the Liturgy of the First Mass of Easter Day.
At the night prayer of the Church we are invited to look over the day which is drawing to its close, to give thanks for the grace of Christ which has guided us, and to ask forgiveness for the ways in which we have failed to be open and co-operative to that grace – in whichever way it has come to us, in whatever circumstances and through whichever person God has desired to lead and instruct us for our increase in holiness. If the new year resolutions are looking a bit jaded, then perhaps we can refresh them with a Lenten resolution to take time each evening, before we end our day, to give thanks for the hours that are past and to consciously entrust our future hours to the guidance and care of the grace of Christ.
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, understanding, my entire will. All is yours now – dispose of it wholly according to your Will. Give me only your love and your grace, that’s enough for me.
St Ignatius of Loyola