On Ash Wednesday the Brother Rice community gathered to celebrate the beginning of the Lenten season with a communal prayer service.  Four Crusaders were asked to reflect on the meaning of lent and how they integrate lenten practices in their lives. These reflections are shared below.

Lenten Reflection: Daniel O’Brien ‘23

Most Christians view the season of lent as an opportunity to give up a food that we tend to eat frequently or to fast between meals. But the true and original meaning of lent, is to put us in the place of our savior, Jesus Christ. He spent forty days in the desert without any source of food. He was tempted by the devil on several accounts. He sacrificed his own life on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The purpose of these forty days leading up to the resurrection of Christ, is to challenge ourselves. To give up or devote yourself to something other than the regular.

In my family, my parents encourage me and my brothers to vow to a specific task during lent. They want me and my brothers to use this season as an opportunity to make others happy and to show love to everyone we can. Last year, my vow for the first twenty days of lent, was to try to cheer up anyone I noticed feeling down. Making others happy, can help spread happiness and gratefulness and impact others’ lives more than you think. My brothers had very similar vows, all with the main goal of making others happy and making others aware of the true meaning of the lent season. For the second half of lent, me and my family all vowed to spend more time together and be humble for the gift we were all given, to be together. We celebrated how Jesus died just for us to be with each other. He suffered from physical and mental harm through the course of his life. That is why all of us can sit together today and celebrate the upcoming season of lent.

Lent is a time where we can all show each other kindness and hospitality. Jesus did not suffer his entire life to have us hate each other. All of us Brother Rice students have the capability to get to know a student that we have never got the chance to come around and talk to. You can all make someone feel welcome into our community. We can and should use the days leading up to Easter to build stronger relationships with our peers and prepare for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

Lenten Reflection Tom Bennett ‘22

This Ash Wednesday service kicks off the Lenten season, a season of reflection. When we were younger, we may have thought of Ash Wednesday as just a day to get some ashes on our forehead. Lent was maybe just a time to give up candy, dessert, or something else that is easy to sacrifice. But do we ever really take a look at what Ash Wednesday and Lent are truly about? Lent is a 40 day period of reflection, prayer, and almsgiving. Lent may be time to get rid of habits that lead us to be lazy and sinful. However, Lent can also be a time for us to practice good habits, such as participating in sacraments or attending mass more often. I know that  when I miss mass on Sunday, or when it has been a while since I have made a confession, I start to feel lost. Lent is a time to correct our bad habits and make ourselves a little bit more in Christ’s image. 

Lent is also a time for sacrifice. During this season, we have the opportunity to sacrifice something that is meaningful to us. When I was younger, I would sacrifice things that would be easiest to give up, such as foods I rarely ever ate. These lenten promises were meaningless and barely even a sacrifice. Now I have learned that I should give up things that are part of my everyday life. Maybe some of us should give up screen time on our phones, or time watching tv.  Maybe getting along better with your parents or a sibling.We should challenge ourselves by making sacrifices like Jesus did for us, even though our small sacrifices could never amount to God’s ultimate sacrifice. 

We can also make a point to pray more and help those in need. I know that whenever I help at a homeless shelter or help someone in need, I feel great afterwards. Sometimes we need to realize the things that we don’t want to do, make us feel happier, better about ourselves, and bring us closer to God. Fasting is also a practice that can strengthen us, and our relationship with God. To start we are not to eat meat on ash wednesday or fridays during lent.  As we get older we learn to maintain ourselves and fast on ash wednesday and Good friday. I know that personally I have slipped up on some of these rules but it is important to follow them especially as we get older and fully understand what we are doing.  

 As we get closer to God during this 40 day span, we need to remember what it is all about. We lead up to christs ultimate passion, and death on the cross.  This is a sacrifice that can never be matched. As we begin this Lenten season we remember that Jesus taught his disciples about almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. We use his teachings to make our own sacrifices and honor him, in the way that he showed his disciples. 

Lenten Reflection Patrick Ward ‘21 

Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we can all be freed from sin, and so we can all live our best lives. Lent is a great opportunity to show our appreciation for his sacrifices, and show that he did not die in vain. Lent allows us to grow closer to God, the church, and our families. 

In my family religion is a big part of our lives. We pray before dinner together, and we try to attend mass every Sunday. But Lent is a special time where we get to grow and nurture our faith. The three pillars of Lent are prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, and my family tries to implement all three of these pillars into our lives during lent. 

The first pillar is prayer. Prayer differs from person to person and family to family. Prayer can be as simple as a silent reflection or as big as attending mass and anything in between. In my house during lent we have a little prayer book that sits on our dining room table, and everyday after we say Grace before dinner we each take turns reading the passage for that day. For each day in the book there is a bible passage, a prayer, and a quote that you are supposed to reflect on later that night. By reading this book everyday it allows us all to relax, pray, and spend quality time with each other and God. As I mentioned earlier my family and I try to attend mass every week but during lent we make a strong effort to be there every sunday and sometimes even my parents go one day during the week as well. Also in the past we have attended the Holy Triduum services which consist of mass on Holy Thursday, a prayer service on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil mass on Saturday. These three days are my favorite parts of Lent because they are so unique and special. During the Holy Thursday mass we all watch as the priest reenacts the washing of the feet just like Jesus did, on Good Friday we all go up and kiss a big cross that the priest carries around the church, and during the Easter Vigil we get at partake and watch as the new members of the church receive all their sacraments and become Catholics. Attending these masses are a great way to give thanks to God and to prepare for Easter Sunday when Jesus arose from the dead. I encourage all of you here to attend these masses and see for yourself how amazing they are.

The next pillar is Almsgiving. The definition of almsgiving is donating money or goods to people in need. The way my family and I view almsgiving is not just donating money but also donating your time as well. In my parish each family is given a box to collect money for Catholic Relief Services and it is called  rice bowls. Each family collects money and it all goes to third world countries to provide them food. My family participates in this and we all make a goal of how much money we will put in it each week. This is a great way to donate money to those in need. My family also tries every year to volunteer somewhere to serve those in need. One year we all went to the PADS shelter and served dinner to the homeless in chicago. Another year we worked at the Ronald Mcdonald house for a day and made lunch and did chores there for the families who have children in the hospital. This year I encourage you all not only to donate money but to get your family together to go do a service project, this will allow you all to spend great time together, and also serve those in need.   

The third pillar is fasting. Most of you guys probably think of fasting as not eating meat on Fridays or giving up something for Lent. While both of those things are great there is more to it then that. Fasting during lent is not meant for you to lose weight or go on a diet, its purpose is to get closer to God and be a better christian. In my house we don’t give up anything but we each try to do different things to be better christians. One year I came home everyday from school and unloaded the dishwasher without being asked to so when my parents came home they had one less thing to worry about. Another year me and my dad said that once a week we would go visit and spend time with my grandma. So this Lent think about different things you can do to become a better Christian. So if chocolate causes you to not be the best Christian that you can be then give up chocolate for Lent but I can bet that that is not the case for anyone here. Instead maybe you have to give up a sports practice or a saturday night out to be able to make mass Sunday morning, or maybe it is giving up social media. But I can promise you that you will feel better about yourself and your relationship with God and your family will be better than ever. I challenge you all this year to take the time and discuss your lenten goals with your families, and try to talk about ways you all can grow closer to God and each other. 

Lenten Reflection- James Littleton ‘20

Throughout this 2020 Lenten season, it’s an amazing time for Catholics to reflect on what we really need in our lives. The three pillars of lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Many people nowadays tend to do nothing except of course not eating meat on Fridays, but it really is the best time to reflect and become better Catholics. 

In my family, we have always taken Lent pretty seriously and are always on eachothers back making sure we didn’t break what we had given up. We try to attend mass together as much as we can, but often can’t due to previous engagements, or all our very busy schedules. We usually go at different times if we can or not at all. Throughout this lent, my entire family is going to live out prayer by clearing every Sunday possible for Mass and making sure everyone is there. I know that by being with my family everytime will immensely help my prayer life and bring my entire family closer to God . 

I’m personally going to live out the three pillars by adding a Lenten Discipline into my life. I’m going to try my hardest to carry out random acts of kindness. I plan on spending these 40 days by being active in the world around me, so I’m able to notice and seek out every opportunity there is to be kind to someone. I catch myself drifting through days often when I’m tired and I need to be present and focused in all my daily tasks and activities. Being so focused on my goal will help me see opportunities in and out of school to put my goal into action. Whether it be talking to the kid not many people talk to in school or shoveling snow that extra stretch of sidewalk for your neighbor, I plan on always being conscious for those kinds of small opportunities. 

In me actively seeking out acts of kindness in my daily life, it will directly make giving alms much more impactful. Almsgiving involves giving to others as an act of virtue. Through me being active in my goal, it will allow me to notice and realize all the acts of kindness done by others. By really understanding and witnessing the small acts of love will, in turn, help me to continue carrying them out in my daily life. 

Whether  you choose to abstain and give something up or to add a Lenten Discipline like me, the main thing that matters is that you are staying true to it and using it to actively become better Catholics. Thank you