By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17
I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way to work on temperance and my relationship with God, but it is also difficult because nobody really enjoys giving things up for Lent. You at least have to enjoy whatever it is that you are giving up, hence the difficulty of giving up something for Lent. I once had to explain this to one of my first grade CCD students in a conversation that went like this:
Me: “So, have any of you decided what you are giving up for Lent?”
Boy [raises hand]: “Yes! I am giving up chocolate cake!”
Me: “Ok great! Do you really like chocolate cake?”
Boy: “Oh no! I hate chocolate cake! I only eat vanilla!”
Me: “Oh that’s not quite how Lent is supposed to work.”
I then went on to explain how you are supposed to give up something that you actually like and enjoy, which is far from what my student had been planning on doing.
We all associate Lent with something that we have to give up, and then the joy of getting to go back to eating that chocolate or scrolling on Facebook once Easter comes. This year, I am challenging myself to grow in other ways during Lent. I know that just giving up a food will mean that I start eating it again after Lent. While that forces discipline, I know that it won’t have long lasting effects for me. Instead, I am working on eating healthy to work on overall health. Additionally, as a way to bridge health and the discipline of sacrificing, I am giving up the thing that we all know to well – scrolling through all of our social media accounts to see what we have missed in the past hour. My Lenten goal to work on this is that I am not allowed to go on social media when I am laying in bed because by giving this up, I am cutting back on my screen time as well as giving myself those few extra minutes for an earlier bedtime as well as nightly prayer. This leads me to the last part of what I am working on for Lent – my prayer life. This cannot be boiled down to one specific thing because I am working on this in a few different areas including Mass, Adoration, and reflection. These are all things that happen in my life already, but this Lent, I am working on increasing the frequency in a hope to deepen my prayer life and relationship with God.
This year, I am really working on having my Lenten goals be things that can continue after Easter and not just end after the 40 days. When giving things up for Lent as a kid, my dad used to always tell me, “You can do anything for 40 days.” This is very true because even difficult sacrifices can be made for 40 days. My goal this year though is to challenge myself to make my goals ones that last much longer than the 40 days. I think that this is something that we can all work on because Lent should be a time to reflect on ourselves and our own lives and make the changes that are necessary to prepare ourselves for Christ’s death as well as the redemption that comes with His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, but the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. Can we challenge ourselves to make our Lent something that affects us for not just 40 days but for 40 years?
By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17 I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way to work on temperance and my relationship with God, but it is also difficult because nobody really enjoys giving things up for Lent. You at least have to enjoy whatever it is that you are […]MORE
By guest blogger Tom Barnett ’16
Every day this Lent I spend 15 minutes in silence in the chapel. In prior Lents I have given things up, but there’s never been a Lent where I’m short of breath. Listening to God is often forgotten, mostly discounted, and exceedingly difficult. But no relationship is of one person. This lent I want to listen more than speak. So every day I sit in silence in the chapel: no writing no reading; just focused, uninterrupted silence.
Some days my prayers flow like water from the rock at Sinai. One thank you leads to another. Each intercessory prayer follows the preceding. Every question begs the next. On days like these I do all the talking. I have to remind myself to see how my thoughts are moved and change course as the conversation demands. If I go in presuming I know everything then I am not having a relationship with God. I am talking at im.
Other days my prayers are dry like the desert. t is an effort to say thank you. It is laborious to pray for others. It is hardest to ask the questions answers . So I sit. And I sit. And I resist the temptations to look around and check the time. And finally I ask God, who are you? What do you need from me? Where do I find it? When do I need it? Why are you so patient? How can I be of any service to you
All days I try to invoke my body in prayer. Before coming to PC I never gave a thought to my body stance in prayer. Now I integrate it. I find the harder my will is the more important it is for me to outstretch my hands. When my pride keeps me tall I lie prostrate on the ground, face down. When I need teaching, I sit on the floor like I imagine the crowd of 5,000 would have when Jesus was preaching. When I am ready for God’s guidance, I continually genuflect, one after the other. St. Dominic did this. His nine ways of prayer have changed my life.
In the silence God speaks to me. It is not a booming voice like in St. John’s Gospel in Exodus. God speaks to me by guiding my thoughts. Lord, show me where to go. Sometimes I will ask Him what to do in a certain situation. Lord, what should I do here? Then, I will contemplate the feelings I develop thereafter to discern what is best to do. I am human, and prone to error, but I will either always err without God or sometimes err interpreting His Providence. The latter option seems both more reasonable and more rewarding.
Tonight I will say many things. But for 15 minutes I will say nothing. And pray that God will fill my head.
By guest blogger Tom Barnett ’16 Every day this Lent I spend 15 minutes in silence in the chapel. In prior Lents I have given things up, but there’s never been a Lent where I’m short of breath. Listening to God is often forgotten, mostly discounted, and exceedingly difficult. But no relationship is of one […]MORE
By guest blogger Meghan Lescault ’16
Recently, I was struck by one of the antiphons that is chanted in the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the year and by its applicability to the season of Lent:
“My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready.”
In Psalm 108, whence this line comes, David sings of praising and glorifying God with prayers of thanksgiving for His infinite help and mercy. Such psalms appear repeatedly in the Divine Office over the course of the year, as they can hold great significance in various ways throughout the different liturgical seasons. This psalm can help as we enter in the season of Lent, as we are often told that Lent is a time of preparation in which we partake in such practices as prayer, penitence, fasting, and almsgiving in order to draw ourselves closer to Christ. I don’t know about you, but after hearing similar statements for so many years now, I now catch myself taking this beautiful opportunity for granted. Stop and think about it for a moment—a whole season devoted especially to growing closer to God! A whole forty days to pray, repent, and experience God’s infinite love and mercy! And now I find myself asking, “Is my heart ready?”
Concerning the human heart, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
“The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart…It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him“ (CCC 1432).
We are often not quite as sure of our own hearts as David seems to be in Psalm 108. In fact, most of us would probably admit that our hearts are not yet ready. Ready for what? Ready to enter into this deeper relationship with Christ, to fully recognize his place in our lives, and to praise him endlessly in turn. It is with great joy that we learn that we are not completely lost causes! There is much that we can do, especially during Lent, to achieve a lightening of our hearts. Through prayer, we can invite Christ to enter more fully into our lives. Through fasting and abstinence, we can come to focus more clearly on God and our relationship with Him. Through penance, we return to God and receive His mercy and His grace.
We have the beautiful opportunity right here and now to prepare our hearts throughout this Lenten season, and we too can join David is his joyous melodies to glorify God. In his Confessions, St. Augustine delivers the ever oft-quoted line: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” This Lent, let us seek this rest, prepare our hearts, and grow closer to the Lord our Savior.
By guest blogger Meghan Lescault ’16 Recently, I was struck by one of the antiphons that is chanted in the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the year and by its applicability to the season of Lent: “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready.” In Psalm 108, whence this line comes, David sings […]MORE
By guest blogger Tom Nee ’18
At a Catholic school it is typical to abstain from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday in accordance with tradition, and to a lot of people, this is not well received. Whether they are complaining out of anger because of religious particularism or just out of minor frustration, it is certainly a fair point. Why should everyone be a part of this? Well, the simple answer is that the school must practice its own Catholic values by abstaining from serving meat, but there is a lot more to it than this. We like to complain because we like to let it be known that we want the world our way. That is precisely mankind’s view of the world.
It is in our frustrations with roommates, in our political debates, in our stubbed toes, in our bad days, in our annoyances with Dunkin’ Donuts messing up our coffee, that the beauty and majesty of Lent reveals itself. Because the beautiful brutal truth is that this is not our world to keep. The same way the frigid air wakes us up in the morning in a poignant and painful way that reminds us we are not in control, the sacrifices we make during Lent humble us. We not only realize that God is in control, but also recognize that all the these petty little complaints turn back to dust.
The Lenten season is a time of all things remade. A time of realization of what is genuine and true to one’s character as a Christian. This is ignoring the arguments, the obsessions, the hobbies, the comforts, the interests all for the greater glory of God. It is by struggle and being tested that we become truly aware of the world we live in. It is written Jesus spent forty days in the desert “to be tempted.” Going out for so long in the wilderness may seem like an extreme example, but in reality, it expresses the temptations of everyday life. The same way Christ abandons his comforts, we use Lent to abandon what we cling to in order to cling to Him with a clear and aware sense of His world.
Man shall not live by bread alone.
By guest blogger Tom Nee ’18 At a Catholic school it is typical to abstain from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday in accordance with tradition, and to a lot of people, this is not well received. Whether they are complaining out of anger because of religious particularism or just out of minor frustration, it […]MORE
By guest blogger Michelle Desjardins ’17
By the time Lent rolls around every year, I am pretty worn out. My personal life, my social life, and my spiritual life have all gone into winter hibernation. It can be so difficult to figure out how to revive and prepare myself for the Resurrection of Christ. Sometimes, we all just reach a lull, an endless cycle of mindless interactions with God and with each other.
As we entered this Lenten season, I knew I needed to make a change, to break out of these patterns. Lent is like those New Year’s Resolutions that you never really kept, but now, instead of doing it for your own selfish motives, you’re doing them to prepare yourself for Jesus‘ Resurrection. Reflecting upon the past year, I realized one thing that had been lacking recently: intentionality. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in the franticness of the year that we forget to be truly present. At Mass, we go through the motions habitually. In conversations, our minds are stressed about everything else. We are always going 100 miles an hour and never stop to breathe.
This Lent, I want to set aside intentional time, in my personal life, and especially my spiritual life. When I am in a conversation with a friend in need, or when I am sitting in St. Dominic’s Chapel, I want to make that time meaningful, instead of constantly thinking about what I should say or do next. Even prayer life gets pushed aside in the busyness of our daily routines. I tell myself I will pray before I go to bed, but next thing I know, I’m asleep before I have even thought about talking to God.
I was having a conversation with a friend about this on Fat Tuesday. She suggested an iPhone app called “Examen” to help me structure my prayer life. The app follows St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen (sorry Dominicans!) structured around transition, gratitude, petition, discerning, forgiveness, and resolution. At each step, the app guides you through a meditation, and gives you space to journal as you go through the prayer, which helps me personally to focus my prayer and organize my thoughts. I can set reminders for myself throughout the day to pray, to make myself stop running around and set aside intentional time.
Setting aside this intentional time has helped me to reflect a lot more in my prayer, to take note of the joys and blessings in my life, and to open my heart more fully to the Lord. This Lenten season and this new means of focused, deliberate prayer has brought me back to this year’s “Year of Mercy” over and over again. This idea of mercy, of unending and unconditional love, has been a recurring thread in my prayer life so far this Lent. By allowing myself to reflect on my day, each and every day, I have seen the works of mercy living out on a daily basis. I have seen this mercy reflecting during prayer. I have seen this mercy in conversations with friends. I have seen this mercy in Christ’s love for us on the cross.
As I’m preparing myself for the ultimate gift of the Lord’s mercy on Easter, I am hoping that this new intentionality in my prayer and personal lives will help me to reflect on this endless love and the gifts it brings. Being present in this way has already opened up my eyes to the mercy around me, and I hope that this intentionality will continue to help me open up my heart to the Lord more fully throughout Lent, to continue to guide me on this Lenten journey. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”
By guest blogger Michelle Desjardins ’17 By the time Lent rolls around every year, I am pretty worn out. My personal life, my social life, and my spiritual life have all gone into winter hibernation. It can be so difficult to figure out how to revive and prepare myself for the Resurrection of Christ. Sometimes, […]MORE