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February 17 marks the start of this year’s Lent and with the date rapidly approaching many are left scrambling in order to prepare for the season.
The traditional Catholic practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving are done with different emphases: praying more, eating fewer meals or giving up a favorite food or drink group, or giving more resources to special works of mercy.
Prayer, fasting and charitable giving continue to be quite good practices during Lent but many ask themselves, “How can I live out Lent fully?”
Sophomore Jayden Murray said, “I have a hard time deciding what I should give up for Lent. Some people go really hardcore but I dont think I could do that.”
In the days prior to Lent, many begin by examining things in life. The purpose of Lent is to grow in intimacy with Jesus so many look at things that are possibly keeping them from him.
Freshman theology teacher Elisa Salcido-Chavez said, “Many times we look at Lent as a time to give something up. And yes, that is true, however Lent is so much more. It’s a season of opportunity to grow, it’s an opportunity to encounter the Living Christ.”
When giving something up for Lent it does not have to be something extreme. It can be simple pleasures like watching TV or eating candy, something to be faithful towards. Ideally, replace this time with spiritual disciplines such as praying or reading scripture.
Assistant Campus Ministry Brianne Sanford says, “It’s easy to get caught up in our fast if we don’t fill it up with God instead of other things. Ask yourself how can I enter into the desert with Jesus?”
Sanford speaks about giving up music for Lent. “Nowadays people are afraid of silence but that’s when God tries to encounter us. They fill up silence with noise.”
One can also give up talent and treasures. Lent is characterized through gestures of love towards others. Donating to charities, volunteering at church and bringing Jesus to others (especially those who suffer most—the lonely, the poor, and the elderly) are all acts of service.
Accountability throughout the season is also important. “The temptation is when you don’t follow through, we think we’ve failed and so we stop. Don’t. Start again and keep going. No one finishes a race if they stop running. This ‘race’ is about the runner and who they’re running to, Christ. Finish your race and finish strong!” said Chavez.
Making the intention to attend daily Holy Mass, Confession and participation in other catholic sacraments is another way to observe Lent. Morning Mass is offered every Wednesday starting at 7 a.m. in the Chapel of Our Lady.
Xavier students have the unique opportunity to participate in Lent, and Fiat40 is a challenge that lasts throughout the entire season of Lent. There are three fundamental elements required to complete the challenge: daily prayer, strict ascetical disciplines and sisterhood bonds. Those participating in Fiat40 will Xavier students will create sororities consisting of 5-7 girls in order to provide support through prayer and discussion. Students need to contact Junior theology teacher Gavin Ahern for more information about Fiat40.
“Always rejoice in the season of Lent and when things are hard, remember God is with you in your suffering,” said Sanford.