Each year as Lent arrives I contemplate what actions I will take. Not simply a list of favorite foods to forego, or times I will fast; but ideas of how I can actively use this time to draw closer to God, focus more closely on his Passion, become more aware of the miracle of His Resurrection.
In our 8th grade Catechesis class students quickly covered the board with ideas - ways we could give alms, pray, and fast. Some suggested giving up screen time, a favorite Netflix show, or a specific device. They mentioned filling this new void with concrete actions: helping with chores at home, listening to a spiritual podcast, or playing with a sibling. Students also mentioned fasting from... arguing. On the surface, this sounds odd. But as they explained, it meant things such as not immediately overreacting when a sibling grabbed the last cookie, the front seat, or the remote control. We also discussed praying. This could take the form of going to chapel before school, or a few minutes during lunch; or adding a new prayer to their usual bedtime routine.
I mentioned to the students that I had often gave up pop music for Lent. When I commuted over two hours a day when living in the Bronx, this was indeed a sacrifice to listen to classical music. Now, although my commute is drastically shorter, I have decided to try to not only temporarily move away from pop music, but increase my exposure to sacred music. Luckily, my favorite Benedictines of Mary (mentioned in one of our Advent newsletters) have an album entitled, Lent at Ephesus. (They are also easy to find on Amazon Prime or YouTube.)
In closing, I want to quote once again from the narrative poem, A Woman Wrapped in Silence (John Lynch, p.230), which tells the story of salvation from Mary’s perspective. This time, meditating upon her witness of Christ’s crucifixion:
She stood beside His cross. John tells us that.
She stood, and spoke no word. And He could find
Her there, unflinching… She was His mother.
What she’d given Him was broken now,
And scourged, and spiked upon a beam; and soon
He’d be bereft of Bethlehem, and she
Would see her life fade out of Him…
He was her birth, but now no angels came,
Nor shepherds climbed to find Him at her hands.
They’d gone away. But she’d not gone away.
She still was His. To bear Him unto death.
- Dr. Amy Sansone, Academic Dean