Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

One of my earliest memories of growing up Catholic was the season of Lent. Not because of some deep understanding of this part of the liturgical calendar as a time for repentance and preparation for the death and resurrection of Jesus at Easter but because of the fact that we were told that during Lent we had to give up something we really loved. That something always seemed to be Lollies! Nothing is more significant for a little boy with a sweet tooth than lollies. So you can understand my negative view of Lent. Even the thought of all the Easter eggs to come did not lesson the feelings of dread at the thought of going without something so essential to my survival! My only prayer at this time was that these 40 days would go a little faster. I don’t think I truly captured nor understood the spirit and significance of this liturgical season as a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

I believe too that in viewing this time as one associated with giving up I lost sight of the positive aspects of lent. I now understand lent to be…

  • A time of change, of preparation and of renewal
  • A time towards a new beginning and new life
  • A time to focus on becoming better people and deepening our relationship with God
  • A time to grow out of our selfish ways and be more caring and thoughtful towards each other

I love what Pope Francis had to say at the Ash Wednesday Mass he celebrated in Rome last week. He said: Lent is meant to wake up Christians and help them see that God can give them the strength to change their lives and their surroundings.
He also talked about lent as a time to begin again: …it is possible to realise something new within ourselves and around us simply because God is faithful, he continues to be rich in goodness and mercy, and he is always reading to forgive us and start all over.”

What a liberating idea. To start over, to begin again. I’m sure all of us at times wish that we could start over. Lent gives us the opportunity to start over with God. We know that through his unconditional love of each one of us it is possible to start again with a clean slate. Perhaps too we could apply this idea with those around us. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all start over in terms of our relationships with those in our lives that we always seem to be in conflict. How much of a burden could be lifted from our shoulders if we could forget about past issues we have had with others and move forward to a more positive future. It is possible through forgiveness and reconciliation.

So perhaps we can take this more positive and mature view of what Lent is about and bring a little peace to our own lives and others. Certainly, Lent is a time for fasting, for giving up, but it is also a time to reconcile ourselves with others and with God, after all God is so much that he sent us his only son to reconcile us with the father through the death and resurrection of the son.

Below is some advice on how we can live out the true message of Lent.

Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!


Mark Murphy