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Community Lent Reflections
Lent is the 40 days before Easter, a day celebrated by Christians to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The spiritual practices of Lent are threefold—to fast, to give alms, and to pray. We might think of them this way—to depend on the Almighty, to be generous, and to commune with God.
To encourage all of us to go deeper this Lent, Campus Ministry will be sending out short reflections via email every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We are in need of submissions to get us through to March 22nd. If you want to write a short reflection, find a poem/picture/song, to share, etc please contact Campus Ministry Intern, Isabella Liu, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by student Shannon Lefler
The season of Lent is finally upon us! It is traditional for most people of the Catholic tradition to sacrifice something from their daily lives to better themselves and grow stronger in God. Others might add something to their daily lives to grow stronger in God. In the Gospel from Ash Wednesday, Jesus says, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” This passage holds a lot of meaning for the season of Lent. Are you making these sacrifices or adjustments to your life for yourself or for God? It’s easy to get caught up in what other people might think of you, and base your decisions on what others would want. But what is truly important is what God would want. You shouldn’t perform a good deed just to receive a reward for your good action. You should perform a good deed just for the sole reason of it being good. Even if that means that nobody knows you have done a good thing. Because God sees all that you do, and He appreciates you for that. I pray we all choose to do the right thing this season of Lent for God. Have a blessed day!
Submitted by student Isabella Liu
Yesterday, I came across an illustrated depiction of one of my favorite poems that symbolizes my current feelings towards Lent. This poem has guided me several times in my life, as I'm sure it has guided others. Forgive me if you think ill of this poet and this poem, but you will soon see its pertinence to this reflection as you continue reading.
As someone of faith, I have often been asked about what I’m giving up for Lent. This is an elusively heavy question. Jesus sacrificed so much for us that we are supposed to emulate that sacrifice in a spirit of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. And of course, approaches are different. Some of my favorites include not watching the next season of How I Met Your Mother or The Walking Dead, giving up Facebook, giving up listening to Justin Bieber or the Beatles, or giving up cursing. Others decided to give up their bed and slept on the floor, or stopped using their car to take their bicycle to work… even in the snow.
But if you feel like it isn’t connecting you deeper with God… you may want to reconsider your options.
Although there is a theme of sacrifice and “giving up,” during this time, my theme for this reflection is to not forget that you can also add something to your life. Don’t forget that you can also reach other to others or do more with your life this Lent. Keep an ear, an ear and your heart open to what you can to make your faith more meaningful to you. For me, I decided to add a regular workout routine to my schedule with more meditation time so that I can tune to hearing God’s voice. This meant more to me than just giving up usage of the elevator.
So I encourage you to think about why you are giving up what you decided to give up. Or think of ways that you can add to your life. Like Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, you have two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and maybe taking the one less traveled by will make all the difference to your life.
Oh… and you can also check out the illustrated version of The Road Not Taken at this link: http://i.imgur.com/bm4Kg.jpg
From the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet's blog, Together...We Pray.
Lent is a time to get in touch with our experience of absence, emptiness, unfulfillment, so that in the midst of our overcrowded lives we can remind ourselves that we are still waiting for the One who has promised to fulfill our deepest desires.”
~Henri Nouwen from Sabbatical Journey
Shared with us by former Fontbonne student and Apostle of the Sacred Heart, Sr. Lauren Zak.
Submitted by student Anna Hotop
Take some time to listen to the song in the link above. It's called "Nothing I Hold On To" by United Pursuit. It is a few minutes long but I promise that it's worth it. This is a song I've come to love for a variety of reasons. I find it to be a particularly useful reminder to myself, especially during this season of Lent. At the beginning, the lyrics are repetitive and say, "I lean not on my own understanding. My life is in the hands of the maker of Heaven. I give it all to you, God. Trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me." During Lent, something I really try to work on is FULLY depending on and trusting in God. It's not always the easiest thing to let go of our own need for control and trust that God has a plan for us. I pray that during these next few weeks of Lent, we can rid ourselves of the fears and anxieties that giving up control and be reminded that God has something beautiful in store for us.
Submitted by student Cassie Dougherty
Today’s Lenten reflection includes a poem written by Ann Weems about the Lenten season. As you read it, think about the unique opportunities that this season presents for us to deepen our relationships with God. Are we taking advantage of the occasion to enhance our connection to Christ?
Lenten Poem by Ann Weems
Lent is a
time to take time to let the power
of our faith story take hold of us,
a time to let the events get up
and walk around in us,
a time to intensify our living unto Christ,
a time to hover over the thoughts of our hearts,
a time to place our feet in the streets of
Jerusalem or to walk along the sea and
listen to his Word,
a time to touch his robe
and feel the healing surge through us,
a time to ponder and a time to wonder….
Lent is a time to allow
a fresh new taste of God!
Perhaps we’re afraid to have time to think,
for thoughts come unbidden.
Perhaps we’re afraid to face our future
knowing our past.
Give us courage, O God,
to hear your Word
and to read our living into it.
Give us the trust to know we’re forgiven
and give us the faith
to take up our lives and walk.
Submitted by student Claire Becker
If you have not seen the Disney Movie, The Sword in the Stone. this is the basic plot. Merlin is a wizard, and he is teaching Arthur to be a good king. As he does this, he changes him into a fish and other animals to give him a hands on look at how life is and lessons he can learn from them. In one scene Arthur is being taught to fly by an Owl names Archimedes. Archimedes tells him this--
“Now then, boy, flying is not just some crude, mechanical process. It is a delicate art. Purely aesthetic. Poetry of motion. And the only way to learn it is to do it.”
I think this can be applied to us in this Lent. I think that every action we do every day should be thought about not only as mechanical functions but as an artistic achievement or something with purpose. As we interact with each other this Lent I challenge you to think about what you are doing and how this affects you and those around you. Bring your mind and body together so that every action of that day is meaningful... because every day is a gift and a blessing that you even woke up. So why not make every day awesome!!
Submitted by Director of Campus Ministry, Sarah Boul
My husband, Dave, sent me tulips on Valentine’s Day. I’ll admit that they weren’t the prettiest things when I pulled them out of the box they were sent in. They were droopy and had not even begun to bloom. They were in desperate need of water. I followed the directions for their care, cutting off the stems one inch, filling the vase with water, and dumping in the flower food that was sent. They still looked sad—certainly not like the image Dave had seen online when he ordered them. In all honestly, I thought they might not even bloom and told myself that it was the sweet thought that mattered most (and it is, isn’t it?).
To my surprise, those flowers went from droopy to perky and opened up into beautiful red and violet tulips. Spring arrived in my office, even with the snow falling outside. Folks who dropped by my office commented on how lovely they looked. But in about a week’s worth time, they began to droop again and lose their petals. The beautiful, thoughtful gift Dave gave eventually made its way to the trash can.
The beauty and the life of my tulips were fleeting. All flowers in vases are, right? They’ve all been cut off from their real source of life—the greater vine or plant or roots from which they came.
Isn’t this how we spend some or all of our lives—disconnected from the very God who gave us and continues to give us life? We look and feel great at times and at other times we’re like the tulips that were sent to me in a box—not as beautiful, not as full, not as they were created to be.
Lent is a season that reminds us of our need for the Life source, of our need to live our lives in connection with the God who promises to sustain, nurture, and care for us. How are you plugging back in with God? Are you finding time to meditate, to be with people who remind you of what is important, to fill your head and heart with information and news that is uplifting and encouraging, to pause at the end of each day to give thanks for the gifts that were given in it? I hope in doing this you feel rejuvenated, energized, and enlivened. After all, that is how God intended our lives to be.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”—Jesus in John 10:10
Submitted by student Isabella Liu
March 6th is my sister’s birthday! And everyday, I am awed by how she juggles the responsibilities of being a mother and a wife with a full-time job. She does this with grace and humility, with gratitude to God. Kimmy is also deeply religious- I credit her with giving me my first young musings about religion and the bible. She may not know that I credit her with getting me back to my faith when times were rocky. It is truly a gift to know that someone like this exists in my life.
So when I went to look up the readings for today, I noted the Gospel for today is Matthew 5:17-19. Jesus says, “But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven." Those who break them, “…will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” I was immediately reminded of those I look up to, those who I call “greatest”. And Kimmy was one of the first that came to mind.
But of course, Kimmy is human, We are all human. And we all make mistakes. But there are those who truly believe in our potential to become more than we ever imagined. Like God, they love us unconditionally and have mentored us in ways we may or may not have liked. They gave us the motivation to get stuff done. It can be hard to obey and teach the commandments, but having someone there who reminds us that it is possible can be called “greatest.”
Today, I encourage you to think about those you look up to in your life, whether they are alive or have passed. Who encourages you to be the best you can be? In what ways? Do they bring you closer to God, or do they bring you closer to discovering your true potential?
And if you have a moment, take time to thank them for being there for you. Lent calls us to practice prayer, almsgiving and fasting, but it also calls us to appreciate those who have helped us along the way.
I pray that you have a blessed week and that you are filled with the love and support of your family and friends!
Submitted by student Olivia Butler
This video was shown to me by my older sister when she was in college; it helped her renew her love and faith in the Lord and has done the same for me as well, and I hope for you too. When I find myself in a tough spot, I watch this video and am reminded of the never ending love and beauty of God. He truly has given His all for us and I think that it’s important, especially during Lent, that we realize that and know that whatever we’re going through is never as bad as it seems. These materialistic things that we surround ourselves with are nothing in comparison to what God has to offer us, because He is all we need. So giving up chocolate or soda or fast food or whatever it may be, for 40 days during Lent doesn’t mean much to God if it doesn’t mean much to you. Mean it this Lenten season; mean it always.
Submitted by faculty member, Dr. Theresa Jeevanjee
Hungering for Easter
In addition to extra prayers, reading and reflection, most every year I “give up something” for Lent. Often one thing for the whole time, sometimes three things I enjoy (diet Pepsi, chocolate and wine) two weeks at a time. But I have practically given up those three things all together, so I did a good deal of thinking about the practice of fasting and whether it would be valuable or not this Lent, especially since fasting does not seem to be emphasized any longer.
As the mother of three, which includes two teenaged girls who have lots of friends, I am often feeding hungry children. They often come home and say, “Mom, what’s for dinner, I’m starving!” Sometimes I stop and remind myself (and them) often how blessed we are to have a nice kitchen and access to healthy food whenever we want to eat. I am grateful that my children have never experienced true hunger except in occasional cases of medical necessity or busy-ness.
And so for this Lent, in anticipation of Easter (well-known to all who are close to me to be my favorite Holi-Day), I have decided to be hungry. In addition to giving up all sweets, all sodas and continuing to limit wine, I have “given up” feeling full. Eating less and more simple foods so that I often feel hungry reminds me that there are so many people in the world who never have enough to eat. It reminds me that I am so blessed to have good food all the time. It reminds me that Jesus went for 40 days fasting before he made the ultimate sacrifice for us. And it gives me even more reason to anticipate Easter by “hungering” for it.
Whatever your practice during Lent may be, I pray it brings you closer to God and everyone in your life.
An anonymous submission
My maternal grandfather’s birthday was March 12, and he would be celebrating his 104th birthday this year if he was still with us. However this summer will be the 35th anniversary of his passing. He and my maternal grandma were very influential in my early faith development and they often took me to mass. Grandpa was a very spiritual man and I remember him reading the Bible around their house and he would tell me stories from the Bible. While the following passages may or may not have been told to me by Grandpa, I think he would be proud that they have stuck with me over the years.
Deuteronomy 15:11 – “For there will never cease to be poor people in the land; that is why I am commanding you, 'You must willingly open your hand to your afflicted and poor brother in your land.'"
25:40 - “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to
one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
John 8:7 – “But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Matthew 19:24 – “And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
One quote I remember my Grandpa telling me was “If you do not have anything nice to say then say nothing at all.” Inspired by these quotes I have modified the Golden Rule for myself to say “Do unto others as you would have God do unto you.” Even if people do not care what others do unto them, we should all care what God thinks when he calls us home.
I hope my Grandparents would be proud that such quotes are what I try to live up to as my personal standards. But I try to remember a sign I once saw in my grade school that said something to the effect of “Saints are sinners who never stopped trying to do the right thing.”
Submitted by student Rachel Shedd
Surprisingly enough, although we grow up, we don't really change all that much. I was listening to a playlist on YouTube this past weekend as I was struggling with the stress that mid-term week brings, when a song I had never heard before caused me pause and reflect.
Stolen by Brandon Heath
You hold me when I put up a fight
You chase me when I run from Your light
I pictured the children on the second floor of the East Building, whose parents frustratingly but lovingly struggle to hold onto their children while they try to wriggle free from their parents' grip. The children so desperately long to run freely and explore what the world has to offer. But after stealing a few quick steps away from a parent, the thrill of his or her adventure is gone. The child turns and runs back to his or her parents with arms stretched, wide open, confident that he or she will be embraced lovingly—despite having ignored his or her parent's call to stay.
How much greater then, is God's love for us? How much greater is His ability to forgive us?
I smiled at God's playfulness as I quickly realized how I struggle in this same way with Him. Only God could reveal such a thing to me through a song. In applying this image to my relationship with God, a couple points stood out to me. First, that God loves me so much, that he would fight for me. He would chase me even though I run away. During this Lenten season, it is important to remember the sacrifice Christ made for us by dying on the cross, but I think this image of God holding us while we struggle is a much more personal image—a much more Fatherly image.
Because You love, You won't give up.
Sometimes I find myself torn between the things of the world and that which God has to offer me. Trusting God to control everything is something that I personally struggle with.
All the Pretty Things by Tenth Avenue North
Look at all the pretty things
That steal my heart away
I can feel I'm fading
What is distracting you from pursuing God? What is weighing heavy on your heart this lenten season? What is it that you need to lift up to God, to nail on the cross and leave behind—once and for all—so that you can rise in new life with Him? What is holding you back from running straight to Him, and being the light He created you to be?
Christ died so that we might have Life. This lenten season, try taking the time to reach out to God, giving him the good, the bad, and the ugly. He wants it all, but most importantly, He wants you.
He's waiting for you with open arms
Come and talk to me if
for only for a while
I am reaching for you
Reaching Out by Brandon Heath
Submitted by student Tyler Fernandez
One night I had a dream...
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.
I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.
The Lord replied, "My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.
Footprints in the Sand, by Mary Stevenson
I was reminded of this poem this past Sunday during our Campus Ministry board meeting when we were asked to do some artful prayer keeping in mind how our faith has been shaped from a set starting point and where we were able to see it going. Now, in Lent, it has become even more apparent to me. I have always experienced Lent as a time of great struggle. Just like the 40 days Christ spent in the desert tempted by the Devil himself, we too must enter into a great struggle with ourselves. It is easy to simply give up something, go through the 40 days, and then be done with it once Lent is over and be happy again now that you can have whatever you gave up back. Especially if you gave up something that you can really live without already.
Let me propose something that some of us never think about. As I have matured I have come to understand that Lent should be about struggle and overcoming your struggles and trusting that the Lord is carrying you through the darkest and most painful of times. In the midst of Lent it is important to reflect on what you have decided to do with this sacred time. What have you neglected? Who have you neglected? Is what you gave up really worth the trouble of it being gone? Are you trying to do something better or make a new positive habit? Perhaps, make an effort to remove from your life something that has become negative, is there something you aren’t happy with or that you do that you wish was gone? Give that up, instead of just those cookies in Ryan every lunch hour. Those cookies will be there 40 days from now, and they’ll taste just the same. But if you are able to ask God to help you eradicate something that you’ve always struggled with, there is no doubt in my heart and in my experience that the Lord will answer your prayers, assist you and most of all, be proud to carry you along your struggles.
Submitted by Director of Campus Ministry Sarah Boul
I went to the Y early this morning. The Y in our county sits on a state route surrounded by farmland between two small towns. The gift of arriving at the Y in the early morning dark is leaving just as the sun is coming up. The horizon behind the farmland always provides a beautiful canvas on which to view the new day dawning.
After the Y, I drove back through town to get home. While I have seen a few green sprouts of daffodils-soon-to-be in my neighborhood, I had yet to see some in full bloom—until this morning. I passed the elementary school that sits right on main street and along their playground fence were dozens upon dozens of newly bloomed daffodils.
I share these two simple gifts with you today—the day our students are heading out on spring break, the final day of our community Lenten reflections—to remind us that new life is just on the horizon, just under the fertile ground. Don’t let this winter-like weather fool you—spring really is here.
We have just about made it through these 40 days of Lent, and I hope you are anticipating the Easter season as much as I am. I hope you have practiced ways to commune deeper with the Divine, to be more generous with your time, talents, and treasures, and to depend more and more on the Almighty. I hope that in doing these things you have felt yourself being renewed and re-energized in your faith lives. I hope you are experiencing your own spring. I hope you will continue to cultivate your spirituality for from it is the wellspring of life.
Happy Spring Break to our students and Happy almost-Easter to all!