Living the Lenten life
March 16, 2017
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
When it comes to building the Dons family and God’s kingdom, Cathedral Catholic High school student Grace Mendes ’18 realized on the recent junior retreat in Julian that nurturing a deep faith in Jesus Christ goes beyond textbook learning, especially during the Lenten season.
“Seeing all my classmates during adoration was unifying, for lack of a more comprehensive phrase,” CCHS student Grace Mendes ‘18 said. “In adoration, I felt so connected to all those around me that “united” doesn’t even begin to cover it. In our rawness, we had to reach out to one another, for in that moment, only we understood the magnitude of what we were experiencing.
“With all our eyes and hearts directed toward God, we ceased to be classmates, but brothers and sisters in Christ. We were one: a true Dons family.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Lent is defined as “the liturgical season of forty days which begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery…reflecting the forty days Jesus spent in the desert in fasting and prayer.”
To many people, Lent is seen simply as a time to give something up. Whether it be complaining, cursing, or cracking one’s knuckles, sacrifice is often the most dreaded part of the season.
However, Cathedral Catholic High School on-campus priest Fr. Martin Latiff called to mind during his Ash Wednesday homily that Lent is much more than trying to break bad habits, asserting that the importance of the liturgical season lies in the growth of one’s personal faith life.
“Lent is like boot camp for our faith,” Fr. Martin said. “It’s a time for us to get fit spiritually, and and it’s an opportunity to renew our faith and friendship with Jesus. It’s a time for us to accompany him on his journey to the cross.”
The idea of rekindling a relationship with God and building community was especially brought to the forefront of the minds of the juniors who attended the March Junior Retreat.
To kick off their Lenten season, 96 juniors strengthened their faith and learned the values behind building the Kingdom of God as the bus to Whispering Winds, where they participated in large-group, community-building games, sang praise and worship, and listened to student faith testimonials.
With its brisk spring air and tranquil scenery, Julian was the perfect place for reflection and contemplation, as the juniors worked to come together as a class through the love of Christ.
“I think everyone who went on retreat last week has a sort of advantage in terms of rekindling our relationships with God,” senior retreat leader Sarah Lackey ‘17 said. “We had a chance to get away from the stress of school and get back in touch with our faith. Seeing God working through the juniors is such a beautiful thing.”
This past junior retreat served to unify the class of 2018 under Christ’s unending love for humans, Mendes said.
Junior retreat is often a time of spiritual epiphanies and emotional maturation, but Fr Martin reminds students that faith cannot be based on a feeling alone.
After all, feelings can be fleeting.
He compares faith journeys to marathon runs where retreats are akin to drinking water during the long run toward the finish line. Feelings and emotions associated with the life-changing experiences on retreat are scattered throughout the race to heaven as aids, similar to how water stations and spectators are during marathons.
“Just like water helps you during a run, those feelings you get on retreat help you on your faith journey,” Fr. Martin said. “However, that is only part of the race; it’s not the totality of it.
“We need those aids, but we still need to keep running.”
The junior retreatants and senior leaders were advised to take advantage of this season of Lent to spread the spirit of service and giving as part of their Lenten mission. Though the main focus of the recent junior retreat helped the juniors further themselves on their faith journeys, many of the retreat leaders extracted the true meaning of Lent through their experiences.
Akin to a breath of fresh air, last week’s junior retreat served as a refreshing reminder that Lent is much more than surface knowledge indicates. God calls his flock to a much deeper existence during this time, and he relies on followers to spread His immense love as they accompany Jesus on his journey to the cross and live in love with people.
“Lent is, ultimately, about love,” Fr. Martin said. “During this season, we should strive to allow our hearts to beat in time with Jesus’ and accompany him on his journey to the cross.”