Finding focus through Lent

By Kelsea Curran, Animate Youth Ministries team member

We are coming up to Easter, a time of new life and sacrifice. The sacrifice being the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrificial lamb. The new life being His resurrection. In the days leading up to Easter, people may give something up (the sacrifice), or do something different (the new). The Lenten period lasts 40 days, imitating Jesus when He went into the desert and resisted temptation for 40 days and 40 nights. 

Forty days and 40 nights … it seems like a long time, right? But let’s just take a moment and think. This time last year we were just about to enter our first national lockdown, nearly 365 days ago. To me, it feels like much longer ago than that. Perhaps because our focus has been completely centred on Covid-19, our attention has been diverted from our previous everyday lives to our ‘new normal’, protecting ourselves and others. This has stopped many of us from celebrating Christmas, New Year, and perhaps even a birthday or two with our friends and families. 

This Lent we can change our focus once again, by giving something up, by trying to do something to better ourselves or by helping others. Using our time in a positive way and in a better frame of mind (perhaps even doing something that we enjoy) will not only help ourselves in these strange times but will make the time go by faster. After all, time flies when you are having fun. So, 40 days and 40 nights may not seem as long if we are doing things that we enjoy, with an end in sight – the sad yet joyous occasion of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Of course, this Lenten period will undoubtedly be different from a ‘normal’ Lent due to restrictions. Last year we were unable to celebrate Easter, which was very strange for me personally. As an altar server Easter is one of, if not the, busiest times of the liturgical year. Starting on the Wednesday of Holy Week we celebrate the Chrism Mass, a Mass that is well attended and something that we all look forward to. Mass usually starts at 7pm but of course last year, 7pm came and went without any of us being able to serve or even be in the Metropolitan Cathedral at all. Messages were sent between servers over Holy Week expressing the feeling of emptiness that we all felt. 

Since then, we have fortunately been able to serve on occasion. In December we had a full team of altar servers for the Christmas Day Masses, and it was so nice to be back. Now, although we still have restrictions, we can have a couple of servers at Mass. This gives me hope that we could potentially serve the Holy Week Masses as a full team, bringing a bit of normality at this strange time.  

• If you are looking for some time to reflect on what Lent can mean we, at Animate, have created a few videos that might help and can be found on our YouTube channel (Animate Youth Ministries).