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Olachi Ozoemena and Mmachukwu Chima, two Loyola Jesuit College Students from Nigeria in the JASBEAM region share how their school is journeying through Lent.

The Lenten season is universally known as a period Christians have an opportunity to change their hearts and ways. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, this season seems to release a solemn atmosphere of inexplicable God-consciousness to us all. “We are dust and to dust we shall return,” our priests reminded us as we received the ash on our heads. Though the Mass held at the usual time, the new normal of COVID-19 lifestyle was followed. The Ash was administered on the head of each one in lieu of the forehead as it is traditionally done.

Days following, solemn Masses have been celebrated with sober reflections devoid of the singing of “Alleluia”, clapping and dancing that are characteristic of our church services as adolescents. The Masses conveyed soul-searching homilies that guided us to Penance and Reconciliation services. These, together, were an invitation to the college community to come back to God through spiritual exercises that emphasize the virtues of gratitude, contentment and kindness.

The Lenten journey has been accompanied by the Lenten Challenge: faith-provoking talks on personal spiritual exercises reflecting the significance of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ on us as individuals and as a community. The invitation of this unique season calls for a change of heart. It is an invitation to discard the old wine skin and to place the figurative wine in a new wine skin. Thus members of the college community enjoy a divine wind that wafts the alluring fragrance of Easter closer everyday.