Celebrating the Lenten season during Covid-19


Sister Lynn Winsor

A Xavier Eucharistic minister receives ashes for this year’s Ash Wednesday all-school Mass service.

For many Catholic Christians around the world, Ash Wednesday marks the start of a new season that the Church is entering. 

Lent is a 40 day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday. 

This period is a time of preparation that will eventually lead to the celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. During Lent not only Christians but all people are called to seek the Lord.  

This year’s Lenten season started differently. For almost a year people started living a life of significant sacrifice and enduring uncertainty. One of those uncertainties being the celebration of Ash Wednesday. 

As this year’s season of Lent comes to a close, many are beginning to reflect upon this strange Lent. With the pandemic still raging, the pandemic transformed many customary practices. 

Traditionally, on Ash Wednesday a priest would place repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants, but this year was different. Instead, ashes were placed on the tops of people’s heads with the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.” 

Xavier students shared their Lenten experiences, and how it differed from the past years.

Due to COVID-19, Lent felt very disheartening. Many parishes obviously have new protocols that affected the traditional celebrations. It is very difficult for me to celebrate during our Lent since all these protocols prevent me from attending my parish gathering (in person) and now I’m having to celebrate virtually,” said senior Lizbeth Espinoza.

Senior Karen Medina said, “Lent felt so different this year. It’s crazy to think that exactly a year ago we were celebrating Lent normally and this year we had to receive our ashes on the tops of our heads. Although it was different this year, I think it was a great time of discernment and getting closer to the Lord in times of trouble.”

For many seniors it was different because of how they previously celebrated Ash Wednesday for the past three years at Xavier. Gisselle Quiroz felt the same when it came to receiving ashes. She said, “It was something completely new to many of us to experience but despite everything still going on, I’m so thankful that we got to receive ashes because it prepared me for the start of Lent.”

The Catholic Church has declared this year the year of St. Joseph. Just like St. Joseph, fellow Christians are called to grow closer to the Lord, and listen to him, especially in times of challenges.