Hello again everyone! I hope your Lent has been truly blessed so far. The semester continues to fly by, and it is finally beginning to feel like Spring! Franciscan had our Spring Break a couple weeks ago, and it has been fun to hear everyone’s stories ranging from crazy mission trip experiences to fun road trips and relaxing at home. Many of my friends had beautiful, eye-opening, and faith-deepening experiences during their Spring Break mission trips through Franciscan University. They traveled to many different locations throughout the United States and South America doing various ministries, including prayer ministry, construction/cleaning, medical aid, and beach/bar evangelization. I never cease to be amazed at the ways that the Holy Spirit works through these mission trips and the beautiful ways lives are touched through the work of the mission teams.
Although I did participate in the mission trip here in Steubenville last year, I decided to go home this year to spend time with my family since I was in Austria last semester. It was exactly what I needed because although I did have to do some studying, I spent a lot of time with my family and friends relaxing, catching up on the local events and catching up on sleep. One of my favorite parts of visiting home is when we sit around the dinner table and talk about our day, our ideas, and life in general. It was truly a relaxing break, and although it was short, it was a great change of pace that refreshed and prepared me for the second half of this semester.
Besides talking about our Spring Break experiences, campus has been abuzz lately with discussions on Lent. The friars make sure to remind us of the three tenants of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. They do an excellent job of challenging us to delve deeper into the spirit of Lent and grow in ways we did not think we were capable of. My household also invited one of the professors to a commitment and he gave us an encouraging talk about the history and purpose of fasting.
For me personally, a major theme this Lent has been love. At first, I was not sure why God brought this up in my heart because it seemed to have very little to do with my Lenten fast and prayer plan. When I thought about it a bit more though, I remembered that my prayer intention lately has been asking to receive the grace to see others and myself the way God sees us, and to love others with his heart. In order to love as Christ loves, we must follow His example and join in his suffering, death, and resurrection, which is not so ironically called His Passion. Lent is such a beautiful time for the very reason that we are reminded to empty ourselves and re-center ourselves on Christ so that he can re-fill us with his love, teach us to passionately love our neighbor, and ultimately bring us to true Easter joy. Easter here at Franciscan University is so beautiful because campus becomes fully immersed in the Triduum services during Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, culminating in the gorgeous Easter Vigil Mass Saturday night. After the Easter Vigil, everyone goes to the Resurrection Party where we dance and eat all the foods we gave up for Lent until 4 or 5 in the morning. Definitely a fun way to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus and the beautiful ways the Lord has worked in our hearts over Lent!
I hope that your Lent has been, and continues to be, fruitful, and that you are blessed with true Easter Joy! Please pray for me, and be assured of my prayer for you.