On the morning of Ash Wednesday, the Prior General of the Order, Fr. Alejandro Moral, was with 34 students from the Augustinian school Nuestra Madre del Buen Consejo (Our Mother of Good Counsel), in the city of León, Spain
The meeting was arranged by Fr. Manuel J. Rodriguez, an Augustinian priest who, together with teachers from the school, accompanied these young people in what will be the last study trip of their school years. By good fortune, the students, who had arrived in Rome last Monday, discovered that their last day in the Eternal City coincided with the first day of Lent in the unique environment of the General Curia and its closeness to the Vatican.
After receiving their ashes in the chapel of Santa Monica, and following a time of relaxed conversation, Fr Alejandro reminded his young audience of the importance of living this period with courage and bravery, always looking out for others.
"When we speak of sacrifice in Lent, we are not only referring to penance, to fasting... We are talking about being at the side of others, loving them and helping them. Whether they are our family, the people around us, our boyfriend or girlfriend, or any other person we come across. We have to think and act with all of them with love. Also, with those who do not have enough to eat, with those who do not have a home, with those who do not have a job. We must think of them. This is how we come closer to the risen Christ, who gives us life. With these daily sacrifices of time and space with those who need it most," Father General pointed out.
"Lent helps us to think about God, that our life has meaning through Him, who always helps us to find the best way to live". Fr. Alejandro Moral OSA
"Ash Wednesday makes me reflect on how fragile we are, how we go through the world subject to illness, to death, to physical disappearance, to ruptures, to conflicts... But we must not be discouraged. Lent helps us to think of God, that our life has meaning through Him, who always helps us to find the best way to live," continued Fr Alejandro, recalling with affection the unexpected death of Fr Paul Graham just two months ago.
After a visit to the gardens of the General Curia and a stroll around the Patristicum and the Collegio Santa Monica, the students of Nuestra Madre del Buen Consejo continued their programme of visits to Rome before heading to Assisi. Florence, Milan and Venice: their scheduled destinations before returning to Spain.