By EDDIE MIKUS
As students attending masses across campus know, Lent has arrived. Campus Ministry is planning several events to honor the Roman Catholic liturgical season, which begins on March 5 and leads into Holy Thursday.
“This might be the most extensive Lenten program on any college campus,” said Father Philip Florio, SJ, vice president of Campus Ministry, referring to a brochure listing the university’s Lenten observances. “This is all our activities. Devotional, service-oriented, individual prayer, communal prayer. Everything is there.”
Florio said that the celebration of Lent would include regularly scheduled Campus Ministry events in addition to several activities planned especially for Lent.
“We will build on our already existing devotional activities, such as Eucharistic Holy Hour, Praise and Worship, daily rosary, daily Mass, daily confession, which we offer repeatedly throughout the day,” Florio said. “We are going to have a Lenten revival built into Praise and Worship with Father John Baldevin, who’s the visiting Loyola Chair this year and is a good preacher.”
During Lent, the Church emphasizes prayer, fasting and almsgiving. While these tenets will be the backbone of the University’s Lenten activities, Florio said that this year’s Lenten program will view them through the lens of a recent remark by Pope Francis: “The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love.”
“We haven’t changed the theme of Lent, the tenets of Lent,” Florio said. “We’ve just changed the theme to reflect the words of Pope Francis, who has rock star status now. And it’s ‘Humility, Service and Love.’ ”
Florio stated that he felt the university’s Lenten activities would demonstrate that humility, service and love were means of expressing prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
As an example of how the university will practice Lenten values, Florio described an event known as the Hunger Banquet, which is intended to promote awareness of world hunger.
“You may get a hot dog, potato salad and French fries, but a person at the next table might get rice and beans, or nothing,” Florio said. “That’s the idea, to get you to understand how a third of the world goes to bed hungry.”
According to Florio, Campus Ministry was inspired to host an event promoting hunger awareness by the Church’s emphasis on fasting and abstinence during Lent. During Lent, adult Catholics are expected to only eat one full meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. They are also forbidden to consume meat on Fridays during this liturgical season.
Florio told The Fordham Ram that Sodexo will assist the university’s efforts to ensure that students are able to comply with the fasting and abstinence regulations.
“We worked with Sodexo to offer Lenten specials on Friday, so there will be meatless specials offered,” Florio said. “As a Catholic university, we have asked them to have special meals prepared that day. They did not do that last year so attentively, but we’ve already had a conversation with them prior to Lent.”
Although Lent is primarily known as a Catholic tradition, Florio stated that the season is honored by other denominations and that students of all faiths could benefit from the university’s Lenten activities.
“I would like to put the invitation out to the whole community that this is the opportunity to take care of their spirits,” Florio said. “Lent provides people with an opportunity to really care for their souls and their relationship with God. All people of all traditions are welcome to pray with us. As a Catholic school, this is how we observe our Holy Season.”
To emphasize this goal, Florio stated that the Jewish Student Organization would conduct events in honor of Passover, including an actual Passover seder.
“We are going to have some lawn signs and banners for Passover, and we are going to encourage students to participate in some of the activities with our Jewish students,” Florio said.