Father John on How to Live Lent Well

Theresa Marcucci '23, Staff Writer

This week is the start of Lent, and most people have probably thought of something to give up. It’s a yearly ritual to eat a ton on Mardi Gras, abstain from something for 40 days and then celebrate on Easter. It’s kind of interesting, a little tough sometimes, and we might wonder why we do this. If we see no point, it can be difficult to live our resolution. So what is the point? 

The purpose of Lent is to return to God. It is a spiritual preparation or training for the important events of Holy Week and Easter which come at the end of Lent. It is rooted in the withdrawal of Jesus to the desert for 40 days and nights before he began his public ministry. Lent is like preparing for a race or a musical. When you have a big event like that, you prepare, working out and learning the notes for the songs. It is the preparation of the soul, when we train and ready ourselves for all that is going to happen at Easter and Holy Week.  If we are not ready, the graces and the importance of these events can be lost to us. 

As high schoolers, we can be unsure of our role in all this spiritual stuff.  How could I, a mere sixteen year old, benefit from a little sacrifice or the mindset of Lent? I have my whole life ahead of me! It won’t even make a difference. To that Fr. John said: “As high school girls, you can have an incredible Lent.  You could have a Lent that changes your entire life.” He said that the best way to have a fruitful and meaningful Lent is to have good resolutions, specifically in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Making a small but important resolution to maybe pray for 10-15 minutes every day; giving up something you are attached to, like Youtube, your pillow, or tacos; and finding a specific way to live charity more, like being extra patient with the person that annoys you, are awesome ways to prepare ourselves during Lent. 

These resolutions may not seem life changing, but everything has a beginning. Starting now to take those small steps to sanctity makes all the difference. You can start your road to heaven any day, so why not now? Even when it is not Lent, we can live the same spirit of sacrifice which is so beneficial to our human souls. One way of living the Lenten spirit daily that Fr. John suggested was to complain less. He said: “If we learn to see things positively, we can be much more cheerful, grateful, and helpful to others.  Our Faith tells us that everything that happens to us is at least allowed by God who is our loving Father.  So even the most difficult things are opportunities to trust and to love God.” 

In order to live these resolutions daily, we have to make a plan. Just saying “ I want to be more spiritual” will not be helpful unless I make a concrete plan or resolution. Fr. John said: “If you want to do more spiritually, you have to make your prayer life more important to you. This means you make a plan for it: when will I do my prayer? For how long? What kind of devotions should I do each day?  When will I do them?  How often should I go to Mass or Confession?  Can I find a spiritual director? What spiritual book should I read?  These kinds of questions help us move from good desires to proven practices that help us love God and live our Faith more vibrantly.” He also suggested, along with making a plan, to ask God for “the desire to be more spiritually active, or for the desire to be closer to him in prayer — this is a great gift.”

Father John concluded: “Do not be afraid.  Making a big step forward in our faith and our spiritual life can be scary.  Part of us loves the ‘status quo’ and doesn’t want to change. We can love comfort and that can lead to lukewarmness.  That part of us needs to be overcome and defeated. Lent is an awesome time to pick a fight with that lazy, selfish part of our personality. Don’t be afraid to do things that are generous and difficult to do for God. St. Josemaria used to say: ‘God is not outdone in generosity.’ If we are generous and daring for him, he pays us back even more.”

Theresa Marcucci ’23, News Editor