Yesterday, the College celebrated Ash Wednesday. This day marks the first day of Lent, a forty-six-day season of prayer, almsgiving, and for some, fasting, that ends at sundown on Holy Thursday (which remembers Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his death on Good Friday). It is a period of preparation to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter. It is a period of self-examination and reflection.  

This period is not only a time to abstain from luxuries, but it is a time to concentrate on developing a deeper intimacy with God. Lent is a time of repentance. This should not be a feeling of shame, but rather an awareness of the sins that separate us from God.  

Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins, which traditionally includes fasting from food; so, what better way to mark the day by eating! The 2021 SRC coordinated this year’s Pancake Day in honour of the event, the feast before the period of fasting. Then, on Ash Wednesday, students and staff attended year level liturgies, again led by the SRC. Each person was marked with an ash cross on their foreheads as a symbol of regret for the wrongs they have done against God and against others. The ashes came from the burnt leaves of the previous year’s Palm Sunday, the day Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  

We focus our prayer on the places in our lives and in our world that need improvement. Fasting isn’t about denying ourselves as a sort of punishment, and it isn’t even just about food. We fast from food, television, video games, computers – whatever we may choose to help us relate to those whose hunger is never filled. This may be due to poverty or other poor living standards. It is about recognising how lucky we are as individuals and recognising that we should never take these gifts for granted. Now more than ever, we understand how important togetherness is; how important community and compassionate response is. Perhaps this Lent is especially poignant as we ask ourselves, what we are sorry for? How can we repent? Perhaps it is not about simply giving something up but taking something on. Compassion. Patience. We have already shown we are resilient as a College and as individuals, now it is the time to think to the year ahead and determine what kinds of habits we wish to develop in order to succeed. This might include spending more time with your family, volunteering or serving the community in some way, or setting time aside to pray, collect yourself, or set your goals. It is a time to be thankful for those around us who bring light and love into our lives, and in turn, lead us closer to God.  

This week, in addition to your prayer and sacrifice, take time to show gratitude for someone who has had a positive impact on your life. Thanking people for the positive force they have been in your life will give them more energy to do the same for others. 

A LENTEN PRAYER (taken from Morning and Evening Prayer of the Sisters of Mercy)  

Jesus, we recognize our own weakness, and we know that only through your mercy can we be merciful. In time of trial, in the midst of our daily work, whenever we feel doubt or confusion, enlighten and strengthen us so that we may do your holy will. May our deeds of mercy express your mercy to a suffering world. We make this prayer with gratitude for your unfailing goodness to us. Amen. 

Miss Emily Risdon 

Faith & Ministry Trainee