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Think about what Lent will mean to you

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 8, 2007

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl garnered the second-largest TV audience in the history of our country for a sporting event. My own conviction is that I sometimes prefer the conference playoff games because I find them more exciting than the Super Bowl itself. But a lot of people enjoy watching the advertisements that sell for millions of dollars. One would assume that paying that much money for a 30-second or 60-second ad would encourage the advertisers themselves to put their best foot forward. That certainly did not seem to be the case on Sunday.

We all know how significant the media is in forming our convictions and even determining what values should be the most important ones for us as a people and a culture. If that is the case, the spate of rather violent episodes in the Super Bowl advertisements seems to be a cautionary light for us. A number of the advertisements contained violence at some level of one kind or another. In thinking about that, I could not help but reflect on two different matters which I have been thinking about lately.

We know that in our country a lack of respect for people is something that is all too easily taken for granted. This is not true only with regard to the way we talk about and refer to people who are different than we are, but it also spills over into the relationships between men and women, our national conversation with regard to immigrants, the lack of progress in terms of racial equality which we are reminded about every time we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. or just give even a passing thought to the situation in our country and a growing intolerance for some of the institutions which have made our country what it is over the course of the years.

For over a decade now, young people have been spending hours entertaining themselves with violent video games, the object of which is to kill as many people as possible in the course of the game itself. I wonder if the effects of this kind of exposure are not slowly eroding away the idea of respect among us and even our respect for life itself.

Within fewer than two weeks, we will once again begin our Lenten observance which will prepare us for the great feast of Easter. It is probably not too soon to begin thinking about what we would like this Lent to be for us and what changes we would like to see take place within our own lives. If we begin giving some thought now to how we will live out this holy season of grace, we will not have to scramble at the last minute and perhaps fall back into previous Lenten practices which, although they are very good in and of themselves, may not be what we need at this moment in our lives.

Increased devotion to the Eucharist should certainly be a part of our Lenten observance. There is no higher degree of human solidarity than when believers gather around the Eucharistic table to listen to the Word of God, to encourage one another in their quest to make Jesus the center of their lives and who share together in receiving the body and blood of Our Lord.

It may also be a time for us to really examine how we live in solidarity with other people and what role the poor should play as we determine the almsgiving that has to be part of our Lenten resolutions as well.

If we take time now to think about where we would like to be on Easter as a result of our Lenten season of grace, this may be a super Lent for each one of us.

This week’s FaithPoint is written by Father Richard Warner, director of Campus Ministry. He can be reached at rwarner@nd.edu

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.