Chapel Ministries refocused the Franciscan University community on formation in Christ by a talk series on the evenings of Feb.19, 20 and 21 on the Lenten pillars.
While Chapel Ministries has given talks on other aspects of the faith life, the Rev. Shawn Roberson, TOR, said this is the first series of talks specifically focused on Lent.
Roberson said the purpose of this series was to discuss the three “pillars” of Lent in depth to help students build a stronger relationship with God during this “season of grace” and to prepare themselves – their hearts and their lives – to celebrate the triduum. This series was meant to foster “a deeper spirituality” and “a deeper connection to Christ.”
Roberson emphasized the importance of taking this time amidst the business of life to refocus oneself on one’s vocation and formation in Christ. He recognized the “especially Catholic life here at Franciscan” and hoped that students would take this time to “look at where we are in that” and to “focus on Jesus and what he’s done for us.”
Most importantly, Roberson encouraged students to “be present to the Lord in the blessed sacrament” during the half hour of prayer following the talks, to contemplate what the speakers said, what God has to say to them and how this can help their Lenten journey.
At 9 p.m. in Christ the King Chapel, Roberson led a brief introduction and prayer before each 30 minute talk, followed by 30 minutes of Eucharistic adoration.
John Beaulieu, director of youth outreach, spoke on fasting Monday night, which is the “gift of … purifying one’s heart for the Lord” and “the lifeblood of prayer,” as described by Roberson.
Beaulieu emphasized that “fasting is not the end” in and of itself, but that “the end is a conversion of the heart” and “a radical transformation of our whole life.”
Beaulieu said fasting is how one gains victory over vice, “crucifying that desire over and over again.” It is how one draws closer to God, he said.
“If we are giving something up, it’s because we’re seeking something greater,” said Beaulieu.
Tuesday’s talk on almsgiving, Roberson said, was about not only how to “give of our resources to the poor,” but also how to give of ourselves to others.
John Bergsma, who holds a doctorate in theology, led this discussion, focusing on the origin of the word “alms,” which comes from the Latin word “eleos,” meaning mercy. Alms means offering mercy, he said, which must be concrete and personal.
According to Bergsma, giving alms is “a sacred act because alms are how we show the faithful covenant love of God to others, remembering others as God has remembered us in the Eucharist.”
Wednesday concluded the series when Sister Mary Louise Marck, OCD, discussed prayer, a charism of the Carmelite sisters, and how this begins not with man’s actions but with God’s desire to be with man.
Marck reflected on how the love of the Trinity is directed to man. She encouraged the audience to “allow him to reveal to you his burning desire for you.”
“The Real Presence,” she said “desires your presence, and that’s all you have to do.”
Chapel Ministries led the way to a thoughtful and life-changing Lenten season for all who attended and were challenged by the series.