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Adapting & Changing During Lent 

Bro. Jack Ventura, SM, Ministry Lead of MFEP and Director of Mission Integration at Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory, Hollywood, FL, sends us this update for the Season of Lent.

Two of the Characteristics of Marianist Education are: Formation in Faith and Educate for Adaptation and Change.

On Ash Wednesday, Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory celebrated a para-liturgical service. Bro. Jack Ventura, Director of Mission Integration, led the service and gave the end following reflection connecting the Season of Lent and the 5th Characteristic of Marianist Education: Educate for Adaptation and Change:

Today, we embark upon a journey. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a period of forty days where we are called to draw closer to God. These 40 days are about prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, always leading us to renewal and new life.

As teenagers, and I am sure also for all the adults here, the concept of Lent might seem daunting, abstract, or even irrelevant amidst the hustle and bustle of high school life, filled with friends, sports, extracurricular activities, and countless directions and distractions. I remember my high school years very well; the hustle and bustle were the same – 50 years ago.

I will admit that when I was your age, I did not like the season of Lent. I was all on fire for the first few days, promising to give up something I enjoyed, trying to be better at attending Mass, especially on Sundays, and putting my spare change in a Rice Box. (A Rice Box was a small box that collected coins in anticipation of donating the proceeds to feed people worldwide.) I was terrific in my Lenten practices for about three days. By the next week, I had already forgotten the promises I made to myself on Ash Wednesday. And then, of course, guilt overcame me, and I just thought, I cannot do this. Today, I would like to offer a different perspective for all of us as we begin this Lenten journey and suggest Lent has everything to do with the 5th Characteristic of Marianist Education – Educate for Adaptation and Change.

As I said in the beginning, Lent offers us an opportunity to spend extra time in prayer - a deepening of our relationship with the Divine and finding solace in times of uncertainty; fasting – disciplining our desires and cultivating a spirit of selflessness; and almsgiving – extending a helping hand to those in need.

As a high school student, you are at a pivotal stage. You are on the cusp of adulthood, grappling with questions of identity, purpose, and meaning. You navigate the complexities of relationships, academics, and extracurricular activities while trying to carve out your place in the world. In this whirlwind, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, get caught up in the trivialities of daily life, and forget about the things that truly matter.

Lent is a time when we all pause and examine our lives and make a conscious effort to grow spiritually and make a difference in our school community, families, and world. These 40 days are like a reset when your phone freezes, a control-alt-delete when your computer gets caught in a loop, or an oil change when your car is not driving as it should. Lent is a time when we adapt to a new way of being.

So, instead of fasting from food, how about fasting from your phones and social media for an hour daily? Instead of trying to pray more, take 10 minutes of a day to be quiet and reflect. Last but not least, next week, all of you will be participating in service projects at school or in the community. Be of service with a smile and a generous heart. Now, Lent doesn't seem so bad!

This particular season offers us a unique opportunity to pause, reflect, and realign our priorities without apologizing. And Ash Wednesday serves as a reminder that sometimes we forget priorities and ask forgiveness. Ashes are a tangible reminder that we are finite beings journeying with others.

As teenagers and students at CMCP, you are no strangers to change. Our lives are in constant flux as we navigate the challenges of life and the transitions that come with it. But amidst these changes, there is beauty in embracing the opportunity for growth, renewal, and change. Just as the ashes signify the end, they also symbolize the potential for new beginnings. Lent is the concrete manifestation of "Adaptation and Change."

So, my dear friends, as we embark upon this Lenten journey together, let us approach it with open hearts and eager spirits. Let us embrace the opportunity for adaptation, change, and renewal, trusting God's abundant mercy and unfailing love. And as we receive the ashes upon our foreheads, may they serve as a reminder of our shared humanity, our eternal connection to the God who created us in love, and a willingness to embrace the transformative power of God's grace.


Bro. Jack Ventura, S.M.

Ash Wednesday, 2024

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1 Comment

Dear Jack, thanks for your reflection! I hope the students--and I--take it seriously!

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