The Lenten seasons begins this week with Ash Wednesday. Each year, in preparation for Lent, each monk of the community meets with the Abbot to submit his “bona opera” (good works). The bona opera is a list of three things that the monk has prayerfully decided to do for Lent. Usually these works correspond to the traditional practices of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
The bona opera is written or typed on a piece of paper and submitted to the Abbot requesting his blessing. Each monk has a meeting time as an opportunity to speak with the Abbot and share any ideas or concerns.
I have found that it is most helpful to have my Lenten good works written down, because it is more concrete and tangible. Posting it somewhere in my room where I will see it (and not others) is helpful for holding oneself accountable to the practices throughout the 40 days.
May God strengthen us in our resolve to do good and prepare our hearts during this wonderful season!