By Kelly Gallagher
The Lenten Season began last week on Wednesday March 5. Catholics around the world started the first day of Lent by going to Ash Wednesday Mass. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics are anointed on their forehead with ashes in the shape of the cross. Students at Seton participated in Mass during the school day. Ash Wednesday and every Friday following until Lent is over is also a day where Catholics are supposed to sustain from eating meat. Many people also begin to sacrifice something or make a change in their lives in order to strengthen their relationship with Christ. For students, common things to give up include pop, candy, snacking, and fast food but this is not necessarily a way to become closer with God. However, Campus Ministry has started a 40 day Lenten challenge where students are given a different task every day to complete. So far, the tasks have been to call or visit an older neighbor, relative or friend, read and reflect on the Gospel for this Sunday, Matthew 4:1-11, and give up Facebook for the day or all social media and spend the extra time in prayer. These Lenten challenges are making students strive to be better people rather than just giving up an item such as food. Although that is a good sacrifice, Lent should be more about not just sacrificing for you, but making a difference in other people’s lives as well.
Regarding the 40 Day Challenge, teacher moderator of Campus Ministry, Jan Linz, said “Every grade level has brainstormed from the past few meetings that they think will challenge students. This was something new that was thought of that the whole school can focus on together.” Linz mentioned that for the Lenten series, there are a lot of diverse topics that campus ministries hope to pursue in challenging the students. Linz says rather than “giving up” something, each year she tries to transform herself just as Father Jim said in Seton’s Ash Wednesday homily. Linz shares that there isn’t a value just for the sake of giving something up and that it won’t necessarily strengthen our relationship to make us a better person.
Campus ministry has several events and speakers planned for the Lenten series. Next week, a speaker will be talking about Water with Blessings, which is a group that empowers woman to give alms for people in third world countries who do not have clean water to drink. “By giving these water filtration systems, we are empowering women to learn how to serve their neighbors and provide clean water,” said Linz. The staff experienced this presentation at their religious in-service last month and wanted it to be shared with the students. Campus ministry wants to challenge the students on how many women they can empower. Linz added, “Giving alms is part of Lent, and we would be paying for a water filtration and the money would be going to the water systems in these third world countries.”
Other Lenten activities include on the calendar include a presentation from Father Pat and Scott Brauch on March 20. Both men will be talking about how we can recognize God in our every day in life. On March 26, Seton will have a presentation about human trafficking as part of Sydney Schultz’s Senior Project. April 2, is career day where students can take time to think about their future careers and life goals. Next, on Friday April 4 is the sacrament of reconciliation which will be held during the student’s religion classes. The last Lenten series event is a prayer service on Tuesday, April 15, and the students will be performing a live station of the cross relating it to our present day lives.
When asked about the Lent, Junior Megan Igel said, “I’ve really been looking forward to Lent this season, I think as I have gotten older, I have been taking Lent more seriously and want to grow more with God. I used to think it was just for fun saying I was giving something up but now I really look at it differently.”
Lent is a season where others should not only strengthen their relationship with Jesus but also with each other. As Pope Benedict XVI once said, “Lent is like a long ‘retreat’ during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual ‘combat’ which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism.”