Ash Wednesday – Sister Nancy Wellmeier, SNDdeN

Feb 9, 2024 | Gospel Reflections

February 14, 2024

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

Jesus’ teaching on the mountainside gives us not only the “Our Father” but our “marching orders” for Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Jesus expects us to work at purifying our intentions when we pray and in all of our religious acts. Our prayer is to our Father in private and is simple and direct. Jesus was not opposed to communal prayer; he attended synagogue services, but often went out alone to pray. Our giving is not to be broadcast either. And our fasting should be undetectable. Otherwise, the admiration we receive is all the reward we will have. Some suggestions for changing your routine prayer, almsgiving and fasting for this Lent: try praying with art, music or nature. Fasting could be an opportunity to explore how your eating habits contribute to global warming and to make the necessary changes. Most of us contribute what we can to our parish, the local St. Vincent de Paul or other charities. Perhaps we could consider another form of helping construct a more just society: advocacy. Writing to our legislators asking for resolution of problems we perceive.

Let us ask ourselves: How will this Lent be different from other in the past? Can I be attentive to the motives underlying my actions? Can I refresh the way I practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving this year?



Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”
The Gospel of the Lord



 Meet Sister Nancy Wellmeier, SNDdeN

Sister Nancy Wellmeier met the Sisters of Notre Dame when she was a student at Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, USA. Her first years in ministry were dedicated to teaching Spanish; this was followed by 25 years in youth and parish ministry in Mexico and Arizona. After completing a doctorate in cultural anthropology, she was appointed by the US Bishops’ Conference Department of Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees to coordinate the Church’s outreach to the Mayan refugees from Guatemala in the US. Elected as a General Counselor for the Sisters of Notre Dame in 2002, she enjoyed six years of meeting and working with the Sisters in all the countries where SNDs minister. Sister Nancy has compiled a valuable history of the SND mission –1859 to 1875—in Guatemala, Central America. She now volunteers at a refugee welcome center and teaches English and citizenship.