To assist readers in preparing for and reflecting upon the season of Lent, The Central Minnesota Catholic collected responses from 40 people across the diocese to share a short answer to one of three questions:
What does Lent mean to you?
What is one thing you do to observe Lent and why?
What is one word or phrase that captures the meaning of Lent for you?
Here are their responses.
“Joyful” is not typically a word associated with Lent. However, one definition of love is to sacrifice with joy for another. We are most joy-filled when we exemplify Christ’s sacrificial love. Focusing on discipline and discipleship during these 40 days and beyond is our Via Dolorosa to an eternal joy.
Mary Kay Bodeen
Sts. Peter and Paul, Braham
I do like to observe Lent with fasting. I have found my small form of fasting helps me to remember all that Jesus did for me on the cross. Each day when I feel I “need” the particular thing I am fasting from, it brings my thoughts to Jesus.
Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids
I participate in the Stations of the Cross each Friday evening at my local parish. I do this to remember the great suffering that our Lord and Savior went through on Good Friday and goes through when we continue to sin. I think the Stations of the Cross help us lay people to turn away from sin, knowing how much he suffers when we do.
Franciscan Community Volunteer, St. Cloud
In a U.S. Catholic Church, in which divisions are caused by politics and the diversity of races and ethnicity, at least during
Lent, all Catholics can let go of looking the color and language of people and share a culture. I love Lent and the universality and solidarity it brings. In the U.S., for the first time, I feel welcome to the Church through Lent.
Latino Outreach Coordinator for Youth in Theology and Ministry, St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary
Lent is more than just a season of fasting, but a time to be filled, filled with the gifts of the Spirit, and deepen our relationship with Christ.
St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge
When I was younger, I always felt very sad as Lent approached. As a father, I realized that I was passing this gloom and doom on to my children. We had to change. We started celebrating Lent. Lent was no longer a sad time but a new beginning. A time to re-evaluate our lives and rid ourselves of those traits.
Chateau Waters Senior Living Community, Sartell
As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst … ‘Repent and believe,’ so Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — he knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.” — St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Christ Church Newman Center, St. Cloud
Lent is a journey of 40 special days to walk more consciously with the mind and heart of Jesus. The Eucharist readings of Ash Wednesday inspire my deepening practices — Joel calling me to “return to God with all your heart,” St. Paul exhorting me to “be ambassadors for Christ” and Matthew inviting me to give alms, pray and fast!
Sister Julie Schleper
St. Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph
Lent is about Jesus’ love and sacrifice for us. For 40 days, he prayed in a desert, knowing he will soon be sacrificed to give us eternal life in heaven. During Lent, it is important that we appreciate his love and let that guide our treatment of each other.
Senior, St. John’s Prep School, Collegeville
My favorite part of Lent is how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to teach them, by his actions, how to serve. After Holy Thursday Mass, I draw warm, bubbly water to wash the feet of my children while we sing “The Servant Song.” They now ask to do it back.
St. Augustine, St. Cloud
Only one thing I do during Lent is to read George Herbert’s poem “Love” every day as the beginning of my morning lectio/meditation. It reminds me that God’s love is first, that God loves me first and that God’s love is so extravagant that I find it overwhelming. It affirms my whole being. I feel loved.
Crosier Father Ernest N. Martello
Crosier Community of Onamia
In my home parish of St. Donatus, our priest began the Lenten chaplet. We pray seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and seven Glory Bes for someone, giving them the chaplet cross at the end. The tradition has continued at our parishes here in Sauk Centre. We pray it as a family, each with a special person in mind.
Our Lady of Angels, Sauk Centre
Lent is a six-week journey in which I make more time for prayer and reflection, become more aware of the trappings that sway me from putting the Lord’s will before my own. Lent opens my heart and mind to the presence of our Lord for what he has done for us by dying on the cross.
St. Mary, Melrose
A word for Lent: “unfinished.” Learning “to care and not to care” (T.S. Eliot) that I am still being worked on by God. Learning to do this partly by “sitting still,” listening more closely, allowing him to penetrate my heart.
Jennifer (Jenna) Miller
St. Mary of Mt. Carmel, Long Prairie
During Lent, I work on fasting. Fasting for me is not a favorite thing. But fasting forces you to be more disciplined with your actions, with your ministry. It’s an avenue for trying to do things better. I also try to spend more time in prayer.
Bishop Donald Kettler
Diocese of Saint Cloud
I see Lent as a time to draw closer to our God who went to such lengths to show his immense love for me/us, and an annual challenge to configure my life to his: to be more loving, more self-effacing, more aware of what it means to be a redeemed child of God.
Poor Clare Sister Mary Matthew Tomsyck
St. Clare’s Monastery, Sauk Rapids
f there was one word to describe what Lent means to me, that word would be “self-reflection.” I use Lent as a time to self-reflect and examine if I have been living my life in a way that God would want me to.
Immigrant community organizer/outreach coordinator, Catholic Charities, St. Cloud
To me, Lent means a time of reflection. It’s a time to look back on the past year and recognize where there’s been growth in my life and what areas could use more work. It’s also a time where I find a sort of comfort and awe in thinking of all that Jesus endured for me.
Christ Our Light, Princeton and Zimmerman
Lent is my most motivated season as a time of reflection, sacrifice and preparation. Life feels different during that time leading up to Jesus’ death. It is a sort of somber and earnest period, but we have constant underlying joy because we know what’s awaiting us at the end.
St. Mary, Upsala
Lent to me is a time of prayer and reflection. I assign those I love, and those “causes” I feel need praying for, a calendar page. Each receives my Communion prayers, Mass prayers, rosary prayers and only “good thoughts” on their given day. It lifts me up!
St.Joseph, Grey Eagle
Lent is a time to concentrate on the Stations of the Cross to truly embrace preparation for the Passion. The focus of our personal Lenten fasts or sacrifices is to allow a greater expanse in our lives and hearts for the mercy and peace of Christ.
Deacon Mick Froslee
Deacon, Our Lady of the Lake, Battle Lake; St. Edward, Henning; and St. James, Maine Township
The phrase that I think of when I hear Lent is self-discipline. It’s easy to say that I am going to give up something, but the bigger piece is to have the self-discipline to follow through with the commitment.
St.Boniface, Cold Spring
As a cradle Catholic, I believed growing up that the word “repent” meant to be sorry for one’s sins. In fact, it means to change my behavior for the rest of my life! What a different spin that definition put on the season of Lent for me.
Benedictine Brother Paul-Vincent Niebauer
St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville
Last year, I experienced the best Lent ever. In a video, Father Mike Schmitz said Lent is not about doing hard things, but about doing whatever draws you closer to Christ. That is what Lent is to me — a time to think about the unfathomable love of Jesus and to do everything I can to make that journey to him.
St.Stanislaus Kostka, Bowlus
As children, we “gave up” candy. As young adults, we “added” prayer. Now I try to be intentional during Lent — intentional about my gifts, and health and prayer; intentional to eliminate the things that turn me away from God; intentional about preparing for Easter.
St. Michael, St. Cloud
“Gethsemane” is the word that captures the meaning of Lent for me. Gethsemane has been called the “School of Christian Prayer.” It tells of Jesus asking his Father if it is possible to remove his cup of suffering but then yielding his whole self in surrender, “not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). All prayer must come to the surrender of one’s personal preference to God’s will.
Franciscan Sister Joan Tuberty
Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls
Lent is a time to reflect on what Christ did for us and the small sacrifices we can do in return for him. It is a time to notice all of our imperfections and work on being more Christ-like in our everyday life. Lent is a great opportunity to cleanse our soul and prepare for eternal life!
St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud
To me, Lent is a time for sacrifice. It’s a time to give something up in order to improve ourselves mentally and spiritually and to become more disciplined. During Lent, simply giving something up that we might want, such as candy or watching TV, can help us focus our effort to make ourselves better for God.
Ninth-grader, Cathedral High School, St. Cloud
Lent, for me, is a time to step back from ordinary life to focus on the extraordinary life to come when I am, through grace, face to face with God.
Joanne E. Benson
St. Augustine, St. Cloud
During Lent, I watch videos presented by Dynamic Catholic and Redeemed Online. These videos educate me on Scripture and give me some quiet time to reflect on Jesus’ passion. It increases my strength to carry each cross in life by remembering everything Christ endured to give us hope of life eternal.
St. Mary of the Presentation, Breckenridge
Celebrate. As we celebrate the other liturgical seasons, we should celebrate Christ’s journey to the cross. We should joyfully give of ourselves on this journey, thankful for Christ’s sacrifice. Practicing Lenten commitments helps focus our minds and spirits on Good Friday, but also, more importantly, on the ultimate celebration, Easter Sunday.
Benedictine Brother Richard Crawford
St. John’s Prep School, Collegeville
During Lent, I try to spend more time in prayer and contemplation on our Lord’s life on earth and journey to the cross. The 40 days give me a chance to look at my life and see how well I’m doing on my journey in faith. Our Lord made the ultimate sacrifice of love for me and I need to thank him by showing my love to others.
St. Henry, Perham
I focus on giving time to those who have the least in our community, including refugees in St. Cloud trying to find safety and education for their children, regardless of their faith. I also pray more often at home from the Give Us This Day periodical. Even saying a short, simple daily prayer helps ground me in the reality that I’m not the center of my world and that Christ came to save me.
St. Joseph, St. Joseph
“Cultivate” is the word that comes to mind when I think of Lent. My soul grows weary in the gray of winter and the season of Lent comes at the perfect time to cultivate my soul. I need this season to dig deep and to look closely at the soil that hasn’t been turned over in a while. Lent is the season to weed out my sins of pride, to plant new seeds and habits and to pray for the Lord to continue to guide me along the right path.
Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Rockville
Lent is a particular season of grace. It is a specific time of preparation by repenting of my sins through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. It is a period of meditation on the passion and death of Jesus, in order to worthily celebrate the greatest feast of Easter.
Benedictine Father G. Arockiya Newton
Associate pastor, St.Andrew, Elk River
Lent means the redemption of suffering. It is a season of suffering: penances of omitting something I like or taking on something I don’t; more liturgical obligations and the time and preparation that entails; and recalling the suffering and death of Christ. Then, he rises, and makes it all salvific.
Father Matthew Crane
Priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud, currently studying canon law at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Canada
Lent is a time for self-examination: a new attempt to let go of all that is seen and temporary; to find a way to determine my spiritual strengths and gifts; and to contemplate the mystery of faith.
St. Ann, Wadena
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with ashes being put on our foreheads as a sign of repentance. The ashes help me turn away from sin and help remind me that I can turn to God no matter what. Lent allows me to examine my life and re-evaluate my faith.
St. Benedict, Avon
Lent is a time of voiced suffering, a humble affirmation that we are not alone in any struggles we may encounter, and truth in the face of a self-servicing world that promotes the greedy nature of humankind.
St. Mary’s Cathedral, St. Cloud
In the past few years, our family has chosen someone each day of Lent to pray for and send them a card letting them know. Despite our busy lives, I have found it a rewarding sacrifice to slow down and reach out to people.
St. Mary, Alexandria