It’s almost that time of year! “Valentine’s Day?” you may ask while thinking of roses and chocolates. Well, yes, that too but I’m talking about Lent–the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter. Cradle Catholics might recognize this as the time of year when their parents made them give up pizza or Xbox games when they were younger, the time of year that Mass gets suddenly shorter thanks to no Gloria in the beginning and Alleluia before the Gospel, and when purple seems to take over. Everywhere. There is SO. MUCH. PURPLE.
But, my friends, Lent is much more than purple and lack of pizza. It’s a preparation. It’s the time when we ready our souls to meet Christ on the cross in Holy Week, when we allow our faith to be most real to us through fasting to remind us that there is a separation between our souls and our bodies, prayer to bring us closer to God, and giving to the needy to remind us that we need to be Christ to everyone around us. It recalls Jesus’ 40 days in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry, and it’s that image that I like best–Lent (like Advent) is an opportunity for us to experience a desert before a feast. To see what it would be like had Christ never come with the quiet assurance that the calendar page will turn and Easter will come again. You never know how much you miss something until you don’t have it anymore, which is why we don’t sing “Glory to God in the highest…” at Mass during Lent. It’s why we don’t proclaim “Alleluia!” before the Gospel is read. It’s why you’ll find the holy water fonts empty and icons covered between Holy Thursday and Easter. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Here are a few of the things we’ll be doing this Lent at the Newman Center. Feel free to join us in some or all of them:
Time It’ll Take: 1 minute
How It’ll Help: Gives you something to ponder each day, proposes innovative and relevant ways to fast, pray, and give to the needy for young adults
The fine people over at Busted Halo have put together this interactive calendar for each day of Lent: Fast Pray Give. Each day starting on Ash Wednesday, the link for that day’s Daily Jolt will become active, giving you a spiritual contemplation for the day, and “new and practical ideas for fasting, prayer and almsgiving”. Made for young adults and culturally relevant, this is a great way to take a few minutes every day to experience and observe Lent. So bookmark the link here and click your way to a better relationship with God this Lent!
Support Each Other’s Growling Tummies
Time It’ll Take: An hour or less a week, while you’re eating anyways
How It’ll Help: Fasting makes you more aware of how the desires of your body control your heart, mind and soul (and therefore teaches you how to control them) in addition to turning your prayer volume on high to God; eating together builds community
For the duration of Lent, “Lunch with the Campus Minister” is going to move from Tuesdays and Thursdays to Tuesdays and Fridays so I can stand in solidarity with all you who have to go hamburger-less on Fridays. That’s right, the whole “no meat on Fridays” thing is actually a rule for adult Catholics in good health. Let’s have fun with it though, and break bread (or pasta…or fish….) together each Friday in Lent! I’ll be at the Dining Commons from 12-1 and I look forward to seeing you there!
Ignatian Prayer Adventure
How Long It’ll Take: 30-40 minutes a day of prayer and reflection, or building up to that if you’re not ready for that much closeness with God all at once
How It’ll Help: You. will. feel. AWESOME.
“The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius” is a Christian classic, and that guy totally knew what he was talking about when it came to prayer. Join us on a 40-day online retreat here. Each day features a reflection, a prayer, a Scripture verse, and a grace for which we are to aspire and ask God. I guarantee, by Easter, you will feel like a whole new person and your relationship with God will have reached a whole new level.
Sand in the Font
Time It’ll Take: An hour after the Holy Thursday service at St. Bernard’s
How It’ll Help: Get you ready for Triduum; remind us of what we’re missing
Come to the Newman Center after the evening Holy Thursday service at St. Bernard’s to get our Common Room ready for Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday leading up to the Easter vigil)–that means we’ll be covering statues, emptying our Holy Water font and filling it with sand, and spending time together in prayer to go into this important time in our liturgical year as a community.
These are a few of the daily and weekly ways you can join the Newman Center for Lent, but be sure to check out our regular weekly offerings in the “Weekly Events” tab, as well as keep an eye out for events–we’ll be talking about our Christian duty to social justice in our upcoming “Slumdog Professor” events, holding two movie nights that will change the way you experience your faith, events for Holy Week, and more.
May God bless you in this Lenten season!