By Sister Michele Morek
On Ash Wednesday I was thinking about the story of Angela – how she would dull her blond hair with ashes (was that to discourage suitors? I don’t remember). Later, in her instructions to her sisters, she would warn them about wearing the elaborately embroidered sleeves that passed as high fashion for women of her day – at least for the chic set in Brescia, Italy!
She warned them about hanging over balconies, or lingering too long in church! That is, she urged them to use common sense. She did not tell them to wear dirty or ragged clothes (though that would certainly keep the suitors at bay) – just not elaborate sleeves. Her advice strikes me as being practical, wise and moderate, especially compared with some other religious rules and practices of her day.
I remember thinking that the Rule of Saint Augustine – which our community followed when I was in the novitiate – was also practical. Instead of saying you should cut off all your hair, he said “do not let your hair flow negligently, nor be too carefully arranged.” Moderation, Moderation. Sometimes it is hard to attain. Sometimes I think there is nothing in between letting my hair flow negligently or being too carefully arranged!
Just trying to cultivate a habit of moderation would be a good discipline for Lent. What would be the equivalent of somewhere in between “negligent versus too careful” for me? What would moderation look like, with regard to the use of food? Social media? Computer games? Sitting in my comfy armchair with a good book?