As a Catholic community, Saint John’s recognizes Lent as one of the most important times of the school year. Even though it is generally a solemn time during the liturgical year, we try to remind our students how valuable the Lenten season is because it gives us pause to reflect on our shortcomings and flaws. In this season of repentance and renewal, we hope that everyone can re-adjust the way we treat ourselves and we treat others in a world that is unfortunately dominated by commercial and material concerns. Our day-to-day relationships are often treated as transactions: what do we give and what do we get in return? This is, unfortunately, an element of modern life that we must deal with on a daily basis.
In the 13th century, the great mystic theologian Meister Eckhart wrote:
“If we fast, pray, and give during Lent for the wrong reasons, we are like the merchants….As long as we look for some kind of pay for what we do, as long as we want to get something from God in some kind of exchange, we are like the merchants. If you want to be rid of the commercial spirit, then by all means do all you can in the way of good works, but do so solely for the praise of God. Live as if you did not exist. Expect and ask nothing in return. Then the merchant inside you will be driven out of the temple God has made.”
These words are as relevant today as they probably were over 700 years ago. It is my hope that when students help and serve others, it is not simply for service hours or for a requirement: it is for the glory of God. I hope that students focus on our school’s five pillars -- Faith, Leadership, Scholarship, Honor, and Service -- because it is all for the better good in society, and not just for themselves.
Our Campus Ministry office, under the guidance of Mrs. Becca Dickerson, has come up with several meaningful Lenten activities for our student body, starting with our Ash Wednesday Liturgy. Rice Bowl Donations will be collected during Lent for Catholic Relief Services to assist the needy, and a day of Reconciliation will occur in early March for students to have confessions heard thanks to visiting priests and Fr. Mike Kuhn. Also, our #StartWith40 campaign on social media which encourages students to avoid all negative postings online and to post only positive messages during the 40 days of Lent. Some of our art classes are also working on a “contemplative mask” project wherein students decorate the outer part of the mask with images relating to how they project themselves to the world. The inside of the mask is where they reflect on those inner feelings and insecurities that are hidden to the world.
We hope our Lenten activities are useful and meaningful for everyone in our community as we await the Easter season.