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Lenten Reflection for the first week of Lent

In many churches on the First Sunday of Lent, people of faith will hear and pray Psalm 91, and the words will likely sound very familiar to their ears.

The song most often played during funeral services across recent decades, “On Eagle’s Wings,” by Michael Joncas, is also based on Psalm 91. It has provided deep comfort for countless people whose hearts are broken by the loss of a loved one.

Whether we are young and in the middle of a crisis, or nearing the end of our life, or grieving someone’s death, the Psalm proclaims with assurance that we, and those close to us, are being held in a love that will not abandon us.

For to His angels He’s given a command,
To guard you in all of your ways.
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Those angels are a manifestation of God’s tender, unconditional love. Those angels are any of us when we choose to reach out in tender care of others. Our Benedictine and partner communities are filled with angels. Nurses, nursing assistants, resident assistants and wellness associates; therapists, social service workers and executives; housekeepers, maintenance specialists, cooks and dining room servers…the list goes on. Those angels are also our residents and tenants, who by their very presence offer us the face of God.

These angels remind us again and again that love is strong, that love is stronger than even death itself.


Jim Smith, Benedictine director, mission integration