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What Lent means to us

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yesterday we began our annual celebration of the Lenten season of grace and change of heart in the context of a deeper relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ. The ashes which we received on our foreheads reminded us that we can never deepen enough our faith in the living presence of Jesus in our lives, through the ministry of the Church and in our world. The words which the priest or minister recited as the ashes were used to trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads reminded us that there is always room in our life for more prayer, for more concern for the poor and for fasting so that our minds and hearts might more easily be turned to the deeper realities of our life. It is truly only when we “turn to the Gospel” that these deep desires of ours can become a reality.

There are many ways through which we can deepen our life of prayer as we prepare for our celebration of the Easter Triduum and the celebration of Easter itself, especially as members of the Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s-Holy Cross community. We have many opportunities to make the Eucharist a special part of our Lenten observance and to spend extra time at prayer in one of the many beautiful places on our campus where we are reminded of the deepest longing of our hearts to unite ourselves with God so that we might also love and serve one another more effectively. In addition to places like the Basilica, the Grotto and our residence hall chapels, we have the privilege of spending a few moments before the presence of Our Lord through Eucharistic Adoration which takes place from Monday through Thursday in the Notre Dame Our Mother Chapel in the Coleman-Morse Center and on Friday afternoons in the Lady Chapel of the Basilica. The Rosary is also becoming more and more of a favorite devotion of our Notre Dame undergraduate students and in addition to saying it occasionally alone or with friends, we might also remember that the Rosary is prayed every day at the Grotto at 6:45 p.m.

We are asked to fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday during Lent and to abstain from meat on other Fridays during the Lenten season. However, it is a traditional practice to voluntarily “give up” something simple that will remind us that we are living in a special time when God’s grace can and will surround us.

During one of his recent homilies in Rome, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics and other people of good will to pray in a special way for peace in the world during the 40 days of Lent and to let those who are poor have a special place in our lives. We can do this through our monetary offerings, through extra acts of service or in many other ways.

Finally, a special activity which is well worthwhile is to spend a little more time reading the Sacred Scriptures, especially the New Testament and the letters of Saint Paul, and spending a few moments each day reading a book that deals with the spiritual realities of our lives.

Whatever decisions each of us has made on how we wish to spend Lent, we should also ask Our Lord for the one grace we especially need in order to be more faithful followers of Jesus.

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.